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HMAS Tambar


Australian Minesweeper HMAS Tambar, 456 Gross Tons, was first launched in 1912. It carried one 12 pounder gun and four Depth Charges with two double and one single chute.

It was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy from its owners William Holyman & Sons Pty. Ltd on 18 October 1939. After being fitted out at Williamstown Dockyard in Victoria as a Minesweeper, she was commissioned for service on 7 November 1939 under the command of Lieutenant Vivian I. Gilbert, RANR (S).

She operated in Queensland waters as part of Minesweeping Group 74 until June 1942. 

On 4 March 1942, an unfortunate accident occurred, when HMAS Tambar was fired on by the Examination Battery at Fort Cowan on Moreton Island. There was a mix up in the code signals for identification of the vessel and the examination Battery at Cowan Cowan was ordered to fire a shot across the bow of the unidentified "intruder". Two crew members were killed instantly and another died later, after both his legs were lost in the incident. The Commanding Officer of HMAS Tambar at the time of the incident was Lieutenant Joseph H.P. Dixon, RANR. 

The military authorities decided to cover up the incident so as not to affect morale in the services. "Tambar's" crew was dispersed throughout the RAN immediately after the funeral of their shipmates. The captain was given a new ship to command and the "Tambar" was paid off as a minesweeper on 14 July 1942. She was transferred to the Commonwealth Salvage Board and was used as a Boom Defence Vessel.

In 1943 HMAS Tambar unsuccessfully attempted to salvage the coal hulk "Kelat" which sunk in Darwin Harbour, five days after the Japanese air raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942.

HMAS Tambar was again recommissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 31 July 1944. She was finally paid off and returned to her owners on 11 July 1945. She was removed form the Melbourne Shipping Register on 5 March 1959 and was eventually broken up for scrap.


Lieutenant Vivian L. Gilbert, RANR (S)  7 Nov 1939
Lieutenant James G.S. Fyffe, RANR (S) 1 Jan 1940
Lieutenant Gordon A. Keith, RANR (S)  4 Sep 1940
Lieutenant Joseph H.P. Dixon, RANT  2 Jul 1941
Lieutenant Thomas T. M. Hehir, RANR (S) 18 Mar 1942

Paid off 14 July 1942

Lieutenant Norman E. Goodwin, RANR (S)     Aug 1944

Paid off July 1945



"For Those in Peril - A comprehensive listing of the Ships and Men of the RAN who have paid the Supreme Sacrifice in the Wars of the 20th Century"
by Vic Cassells


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This page first produced 23 February 2002

This page last updated 18 October 2018