About This Unit
HMAS Goorangai was a 223-ton auxiliary minesweeper of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built in 1919 for the Government of New South Wales, then sold in 1926 to the fishing company Cam & Sons. The trawler was requisitioned for military service following the outbreak of World War II, converted into a minesweeper, and assigned to Melbourne. She was sunk in an accidental collision with MV Duntroon in 1940, becoming the RAN's first loss of World War II, and the first RAN surface ship to be lost in wartime.
On the night of 20 November, Goorangai was crossing the mouth of Port Phillip Bay to anchor at Portsea for the night. The minesweeper was sailing under 'brownout' conditions, with minimal lighting. At 20:37, MV Duntroon, en route to Sydney, emerged from Port Phillip Bay and cut Goorangai in two. The small auxiliary sank within a minute, taking all 24 personnel aboard with her. Only six bodies were recovered, one of which couldn't be identified. Goorangai and her ship's company were the RAN's first loss in World War II, and the first RAN surface ship ever to be sunk while in service.
News of the accident quickly spread in Melbourne, as the media outlets decided that as the loss of life was due to an accident and not military action, censorship restrictions did not reply. The Australian Commonwealth Naval Board disagreed, and the War Cabinet later issued supplementary instructions preventing the publishing of any loss of Australian personnel or equipment without approval. Because the wreck was inside the shipping zone and resting in less than 15 metres (49 ft) of water, it was destroyed by explosives in January 1941. The Court of Marine Inquiry initially found both ships to be at fault for the collision, but later exonerated the captain of Duntroon as poor positioning of lights aboard the minesweeper, which led him to believe that the minesweeper was on a parallel course, was identified as the main cause of the accident.
In January 1941 the wreckage was reduced by blasting to sections of structural plating up to 2 m high, and a small cylindrical boiler, with bits of scattered broken machinery. The wreckage is heavily overgrown by encrusting invertebrates, with prolific fish and mobile invertebrate life, and covers some 200 m2 of sandy seabed in the South Channel, where anchoring is prohibited. Strong tidal currents make timing important.
Latitude: 38° 17.404′ S, Longitude: 144° 40.992′ E, Datum: WGS84, depth 13 to 15 m.