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HMAS Torrens (DE 53)
Black-and-white photograph of a destroyer escort with the number "53" painted on the bow. The ship is underway. A second ship of a similar design is in the background.
HMA Ships Torrens and Yarra (background) underway
Career (Australia)
Namesake: The River Torrens
Builder: Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company Propriety Limited
Laid down: 18 August 1965
Launched: 28 September 1968
Commissioned: 19 January 1971
Decommissioned: 1998
Motto: "Faith and Fortitude"
Honours and
One inherited battle honour
Fate: Sunk as target, 14 June 1999
General characteristics
Class & type: River class destroyer escort
Displacement: 2,700 long tons (2,700 t)
Length: 107 m (351 ft)
Beam: 12.49 m (41.0 ft)
Draught: 4.57 m (15.0 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x English Electric steam turbines
2 shaft; 30,000 shp (22,400 kW); 2 x JTA 500 kW generators from the steam turbines; 2 x KTA 500 kW generators powered from diesels.
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 250
Sensors and
processing systems:
1991 Mulloka sonar system Radar, 8GR-301 surface-search/navigation radar – 1991 Refitted with Krupp Atlas ARPA 8600, LW-02 Long Range Air Search Radar
Armament: 2 x 4.5-inch (110 mm) Mark 6 guns
1 x Limbo anti-submarine mortar
1 x quad Seacat SAM launcher
1 x Ikara ASW system
2 x Mark 32 torpedo tubes – 1979

HMAS Torrens (DE 53) was a River class destroyer escort of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built as a replacement for HMAS Voyager, Torrens entered service in 1971, and was active until her decommissioning in 1998.

The ship was sunk as a target by HMAS Farncomb in June 1999. Images and footage of the ship sinking have been used and adapted for various purposes, including in movies and as propaganda.


Torrens and sister ship HMAS Swan were ordered in 1964 as replacements for HMAS Voyager, a destroyer lost following a collision with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in 1964.[1] Although intended to be the same as the previous River class ships (themselves based on the British Type 12 frigate), the design was changed from 1965 to incoprorate many of the improvements of the British Leander class frigates.[2] Work on the two vessels started without specifications or a contract, and the evolving design meant changes were being made as the ships were being constructed, with resulting delays and cost increases attributed to a lack of planning.[3]

Torrens was laid down by the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company Propriety Limited at Sydney, New South Wales on 18 August 1965.[citation needed] She was launched on 28 September 1968 by Dame Zara Holt, and commissioned into the RAN on 19 January 1971.[citation needed] Torrens was the last major war vessel built in an Australian shipyard until work commenced on HMAS Melbourne in 1985.[4]

Operational history

Torrens and the destroyer tender HMAS Stalwart participated in celebrations of Papua New Guinea's independence from Australia in September 1975, with Torrens arriving in Rabaul on 14 September.[5][6]

On 16 August 1976, Torrens and HMAS Melbourne were performing work-up exercises following the latter's refit when they were called to assist MV Miss Chief off the coast of Bundaberg, Queensland.[7]

During late February and early March 1972, Torrens escorted the troopship HMAS Sydney on her twenty-fourth and final troop transport voyage in support of the Vietnam War.[8] The ships arrived in Vũng Tàu on 28 February, collected 457 Australian soldiers, then departed the next day for home.[8]

Decommissioning and fate

HMAS Torrens paid off in 1998. On 14 June 1999, Torrens was sunk by a live Mark 48 Mod 4 torpedo fired by the Collins-class submarine HMAS Farncomb during the latter's combat system trials.[9]

Digitally edited film of the torpedo hitting Torrens was used in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor as part of a black-and-white 'newsreel' montage.[10][11] A photo of Torrens exploding was used on a Hezbollah-operated website to support a propaganda claim that an Israeli warship was sunk by a Hezbollah missile in July 2006.[12]


  1. Jeremey, in Stevens, The Navy and the Nation, p. 197
  2. Jeremey, in Stevens, The Navy and the Nation, pp. 197–8
  3. Jeremey, in Stevens, The Navy and the Nation, p. 205
  4. Jeremey, in Stevens, The Navy and the Nation, p. 198
  5. Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 231
  6. "RAN Units at PNG Independence Celebrations". Navy News. Royal Australian Navy. 12 September 1975. p. 6. Archived from the original on 2011-03-21. 
  7. Lind, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 291
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nott & Payne, The Ving Tau Ferry, p. 178
  9. Spurling, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 287
  10. Underwood, Lots of fire, but no smoke
  11. Pearl Harbor (2001) – Trivia,
  12. Bolt, Hezbollah sinks Australian warship


  • Lind, Lew (1986) [1982]. The Royal Australian Navy – Historic Naval Events Year by Year (2nd ed. ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7301-0071-5. OCLC 16922225. 
  • Nott, Rodney; Payne, Noel (2008) [1994]. The Vung Tau Ferry: HMAS Sydney and Escort Ships (4th ed.). Dural, NSW: Rosenberg. ISBN 978-1-877058-72-1. OCLC 254773862. 
  • Stevens, David, ed (2001). The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095. 
    • Jones, Peter. "Towards Self Reliance". The Royal Australian Navy. 
    • Spurling, Kathryn. "The Era of Defence Reform". The Royal Australian Navy. 
  • Stevens, David & Reeve, John, ed (2005). The Navy and the Nation: the influence of the Navy on modern Australia. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-200-8. OCLC 67872922. 
    • Jeremy, John C.. "Australian shipbuilding and the impact of World War II". In Stevens, David & Reeve, John. The Navy and the Nation: the influence of the Navy on modern Australia. 
News articles and websites

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