- Mesley, Rear Admiral J.S., CBE, MVO, DSC
- Biographies and personal histories, Ship histories and stories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Swan II
- September 1987 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Swan anchored off the Roman Catholic Mission buildings early on 8th August and although it was a Sunday the flag of His Excellency was saluted by 19 charges of dynamite fired by a priest at the foot of a coconut palm at intervals of about 20 seconds. This appeared to be a highly dangerous procedure. The Vice-Regal party landed and was shown over the mission and entertained by the mission children singing the National Anthem and a song of welcome in pidgin. After lunch ashore, the party re- embarked and the ship proceeded to Madang anchoring some 85 minutes later. At His Excellency’s request, a salute was not fired when the Vice-Regal party landed and were greeted by some 750 natives singing in pidgin and the local language. Their Excellencies entertained five residents at dinner on board that evening.
The ship left Madang Monday, 9th August for Salamaua and ran into heavy rain squalls and strong winds. Fortunately a brief improvement in the visibility enabled the shoreline to be sighted and the ship anchored in Salamaua Harbour at 0815 Tuesday, 10th August.
Heavy rain and poor visibility delayed the intended programme but eventually the Vice- Regal party, accompanied by the Captain, landed and after local ceremonies, were flown by Guinea Airways to Lae. A 19-gun salute was fired by Swan as His Excellency left the ship. Lady Gowrie in particular was glad to leave Swan as the motion, even in good weather, had not been enjoyed. After lunching at Lae, the whole party flew to Bulolo where they were the guests of the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company Limited.
During the next two days, 11th and 12th August, when the weather permitted, His Excellency and some members of the party visited by air Kiapit, Ramu, Wau, Koranga Creek and Mount Kaindi, all gold producing areas. On 13th August, after a four-hour delay due to the unfavourable weather, the party flew to Salamaua. The Administrator and the Captain rejoined Swan and the Vice- Regal party embarked in Australia, which had arrived on 12th and had been placed in quarantine owing to an outbreak of rubella on board. Prior to the arrival of Australia, soundings had been taken by Swan’s motor boat and echo sounding machine to ensure a safe anchorage and details were signalled to the Australia. Swan weighed and kept clear until after Australia had anchored and then went alongside for fuel.
When His Excellency embarked, his flag was broken in Australia and hauled down in Swan and Swan flew the flag of the Administrator. During the afternoon of 13th August Swan slipped and proceeded to Rabaul and Australia proceeded to return the Vice-Regal party to the mainland of Australia.
Swan anchored in Rabaul Harbour on 15th and the Administrator landed, but being Sunday, no salute was fired. The ship left the next day and secured to No. 1 buoy off the phosphate loading facility at Nauru early on 21st August. Calls were exchanged between the Captain and the Administrator of the Island, Commander R.C. Garcia, RAN (Ret), a salute of 11 guns being fired when the latter landed.
Great trouble had been taken by the Administrator and the British Phosphate Commission to ensure that officers and men were thoroughly entertained and the ship reciprocated as well as was possible. After a most enjoyable three days, the ship slipped on 24th August and proceeded to Faisi (Shortland Island) arriving during the afternoon 27th and leaving on 30th, reaching Gizo the same day. A sketch survey of the harbour was carried out in the motor boat, but was restricted by the almost incessant rain during the visit. The ship sailed on last September and arrived at Tulagi the following day. Calls were exchange by the Captain and the Resident Commissioner of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, the latter receiving an 11 -gun salute as he left the ship. Recreation facilities were much enjoyed by the ship’s company, in spite of the extremely hot weather, and matches were arranged in golf, tennis, soccer, cricket and swimming.
Leaving Tulagi on 6th, the ship arrived at Brisbane on 11th after a rough passage and, having replenished with fuel and stores, proceeded on 15th for Grafton, anchoring off the Pile Light (Moreton Bay) for the night.