- Bunnett, A, Halliburton, G and Webb, P
- None noted
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Yarra I, HMAS Nepean, HMAS Lonsdale, HMAS Parramatta I
- December 1971 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Throughout the next two years, continual disputes between the State and Federal Governments over the use of non-union labour in the Dockyard led to a gradual decrease in the orders for fitting out troop transports.
Early in 1917, the Federal Government was greatly concerned about the scarcity of shipping tonnage, so necessary for the successful prosecution of the war. In September 1917, the Prime Minister, Mr. W.M. Hughes authorised the Victorian Government to prepare a building berth at Williamstown for the construction of a 3,000 ton steamer.
The next announcement by the Prime Minister advised that two ships were to be built at Williamstown, and two at Walsh Island in NSW. Lack of materials, shortage of labour and continual industrial disputes had been obstacles to the Victorian Government’s efforts to develop the shipbuilding industry at Williamstown.
One of the first tasks at Williamstown was the preparation of the building berths, but an obstacle to this was the suction dredge which had occupied one building berth for over two years. The dredge, named Lady Stanley, was finally launched on 15th January 1918. The berth which she had occupied for so long was then prepared for one of the new steamers.
The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bowser, stated in the course of his Budget Speech on 5th February 1918, that the State shipbuilding yard at Williamstown was established in 1913 and up to the present had cost the State a total of 200,000 Pounds. For this sum, the Commonwealth Government agreed to purchase the whole concern. The Dockyard was taken over by the Commonwealth on 8th February 1918.
The Federal Government’s announcement on the 29th May 1918 that six additional ships would be built at Williamstown was most encouraging, and gave promise of a large scale expansion in the industry. From this date forward the dockyard was to average a vessel per year in addition to a large programme of refitting.