Darwin Harbour was protected during WW2 by the world's longest anti-submarine boom. It was operated by a total of seven Boom Defence vessels.

A meshed steel wire cable was stretched across Darwin Harbour from East Point across to West Point. Stage 1 of the Boom Defence was completed in 1942 and was 4.6kms long. It was later extended to 5.59kms in length. Buoys were used to hold up the top of the cable. Larger buoys distributed along the cable at intervals were attached to the seabed.

An opening was formed to let through friendly vessels. HMAS Kara Kara and HMAS Gunbar were the two anchored gate ships for the Darwin Boom Defence.



HMAS Gunbar


HMAS Kara Kara built in the 1920's was a former Sydney Harbour vehicle ferry.

One source indicates that F. B. Emms and PO. Moore were killed as a result of the attack on the Boom Defence ship HMAS Kara Kara. Emms subsequently died from his wounds after being transferred to the Hospital Ship Manunda

The AWM Roll of Honour however shows F.B. Emms a leading cook, being killed on HMAS Melville. The AWM Roll of Honour also shows a Petty Officer F. Moore being killed on HMAS Kookaburra and a cook, N.R. Moore being killed on HMAS Kangaroo.

HMAS Kangaroo commenced Boom Defence duties in Darwin Harbour on 13 January 1941.

The diary of Dudley Horner, R.A.N., who served on H.M.A.S. Bendigo shows the following entry on 25 May 1942:-

Alongside at Townsville. Swan proceeded at 0300. We shipped at 1700 and proceeded to anchorage in Cleveland Bay to act as A/S screen for anchored merchantmen. Goulburn & Cessnock went alongside. Boom defence vessels Koala, Kangaroo & Kianera arr. Sailed on oiling.

HMAS Kuru, 56 tonnes, was another ship used for patrol duties and Boom Defence duties in Darwin Harbour during WW2. Kuru had earlier been utilised to support some of the Coastwatchers in the Northern Territory. It was subsequently commissioned in December 1941. Before starting its patrol and boom defence duties in Darwin Harbour it provided support to the Australian commandos fighting the Japanese on Timor. HMAS Kuru rescued the survivors of the ill-fated Patricia Cam on 29 January 1943.



Engineering Heritage Australia
No. 18 - July 2006
HMAS Kara Kara (page 6)
Owen Peake

"In the Highest Traditions - RAN Heroism Darwin 19 February 1942"
by John Bradford

"The Shadows Edge"
by Professor Alan Powell



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This page first produced 4 September 2006

This page last updated 09 October 2016