- Hinchliffe, L.M.
- Ship design and development, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sheean, HMAS Rankin, HMAS Collins, HMAS Dechaineux, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Waller
- June 1990 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In an unprecedented break from Australian naval tradition, the new submarines have been named not after capital cities, towns or former vessels, but distinguished naval personnel in World War 2.
The class name will be COLLINS after Vice Admiral Sir John Collins, KBE, CB, Mid, Order of Orange Nassau, US Legion of Merit, of SYDNEY-BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI fame, first RAN College graduate to become First Naval Member and Chief of Naval Staff.
HMAS COLLINS’s keel was laid early in February 1990 and will be followed by HMAS FARNCOMB, named after Rear Admiral H.B. Farncomb, CB, DSO, MVO, Mid (3), US Legion of Merit, US Navy Cross, who was the first graduate of the RAN College to attain the rank of Captain and was at sea virtually the whole of World War 2, commanding PERTH, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA and HMS ATTACKER and taking command o€ the Australian Squadron when Commodore Collins was wounded.
HMAS WALLER will follow FARNCOMB. Captain H.M.L. Waller, DSO* was commanding the 10th Destroyer Flotilla, which the Germans made famous by dubbing it the SCRAP IRON FLOTILLA, in HMAS STUART and was in the Mediterranean and took part in many actions including the Battles of Calabria and Matapan, Greece, Crete and Syrian campaigns.
STUART, worn out, returned to Australia for refit and Captain Waller took command of PERTH, joining the Allied Fleet in the Java Sea where she was sunk by superior Japanese forces on 1st March 1942, Captain Waller being lost.
HMAS DECHAINEUX is named after Captain E.F.V. Dechaineux, DSC, US Legion of Merit, who after commanding destroyers in United Kingdom home waters, commanded WARRAMUNGA and AUSTRALIA. He died from wounds received from a kamikaze attack on Trafalgar Day 1944.
HMAS SHEEAN perpetuates the bravery of Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean of HMAS ARMIDALE, when that ship was attacked and sunk by Japanese bombers in the Arafura Sea. O.D. Sheean remained at his post – the after oerlikon gun – shot down a bomber and continued firing until killed. He was Mentioned in Despatches.
HMAS RANKIN will commemorate the bravery and skill of Lieutenant Commander R.W. Rankin, Captain of HMAS YARRA. YARRA was escorting the convoy of two tankers assisted by a small motor minesweeper to Fremantle, when early on 4th March 1942 a force of three Japanese heavy cruisers and two destroyers was sighted. Lieutenant Commander Rankin ordered the convoy to scatter, laid a smoke screen between the enemy and the convoy and then turned and fired upon the enemy. It was a hopeless battle and the four vessels were sunk. Survivors were few, but those in the tankers and minesweeper and prisoners in one of the Japanese cruisers were vividly impressed by her (YARRA) fight.
YARRA’s actions were likened to those of HMS JERVIS BAY earlier in the war. Rankin received no public recognition but his name will now be remembered for all time.
It is fitting that at last the nation will be aware of some of our naval heroes because that is what they are.
If we have a seventh submarine, perhaps Captain F.E. Getting, himself a submariner, will be remembered. He was lost in HMAS CANBERRA.