About This Unit
HMAS Murchison was ordered as part of Australia's shipbuilding program during the Second World War. Twelve of these Australian built frigates were to enter service with the Royal Australian Navy.
Eight were built to the British River Class specification and like the Royal Navy the RAN continued the naming convention naming these frigates after Australian rivers; HMA Ships Barcoo, Barwon, Burdekin, Diamantina (I),Gascoyne (I), Hawkesbury (I), Lachlan and Macquarie. A further four, HMA Ships Condamine (I), Culgoa, Murchison and Shoalhaven, while also named after Australian rivers but were built to a Royal Navy's Bay Class Frigate specification. These latter ships were generally known as Modified River Class Frigates although they are sometimes referred to as Bay Class.
Murchison was built in Brisbane by Evans Deakin Ltd and commissioned on 17 December 1945, after the end of WW2. All up weight of 2,200 tons, armed with 4 x 4 inch guns, 3 x 40mm Bofors AA guns, 20mm Oerlikon cannon, depth charges and a Hedgehog antisubmarine projector. She was despatched to Morotai, then Ternate and the Celebes on surveillance duties and for duty with the Commonwelath War Graves Commission. In February 1946 she sailed to Japan for duty with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces, returning to Australia in May 1946.
HMAS Murchison was most notably deployed to Korea from May 1951 to February 1952 and took part in a number inshore operations against Communist North Korean and Chinese land targets particularly around the Han River Estuary in that portion of the Korean mainland below the 38th parallel that was still occupied by the Chinese and Communist forces.
A full account is available via the link in the sidebar. An extract follows providing a vivi account of the intensity and danger of a close range fight between a ship and concealed shore batteries on 19 Sep 1951.
Two days later she returned to the scene of the engagement. The enemy, apparently expecting her return, had in the meantime strengthened their artillery. A second gun duel ensued, fought at such short range that Murchison's gunners were firing over open sights at a rate of 20 shells a minute.
Bolstered by their increased armament, the Communist forces maintained heavy concentrated fire and as the frigate endeavoured to manoeuvre in the fast tidal river channel, succeeded in holing the ship at several points above the waterline. However, Murchison's repeated hits took their toll on the enemy guns, reducing them to desultory fire, before the frigate withdrew to await reinforcement. Later joined by other ships of the patrol group she returned and with combined 4-inch shelling ended all opposition. Ammunition expenditure in this engagement totalled 276 rounds 4-inch and 500 rounds from the 40mm Bofors.
HMAS Murchison's tour was certainly eventful.
She returned to Australia in February 1952, and became a training ship, interleaved witha period in late 1952 where she was presnet at the nuclear tests at Montebello Islnads off the Western Australian coast. She returned to patrol duties off Korea in 1953 after the Truce was effected , before returningto Australia and resuming a traning role.
She paid off in 1956 and was scrapped in 1961.