Navy Technicians Use Great Skill After Their Ship Sinks

The motor boat which contained 22 survivors of the sinking

Date of Event: NA

Vessel type: Motor boat

Location: Darwin

Suggested title: Navy Technicians Use Great Skill After Their Ship Sinks


With the HMAS Armidale, sunk in battle. The two boats (one broken) were the survivors only hope. The crew waited for rescue for a day before concluding they would need to self-rescue by sending the motor boat 400km to Darwin.

The motor boat bullet holes were plugged and bailed 22 boarded the boat including Motor Mechanic Les Higgins and Engine Room Artificer Richard Maddox who stripped, cleaned, reassembled and got the Ford 4 – 10 engine running for 24 hours. When petrol fuel ran out the engine was adjusted to run on compression ignition as a diesel. This work was done using either no tools or improvised tools.

The boat was paddled then motored toward Darwin, to be eventually rescued by the by HMAS Kalgoorlie. There were seventeen survivors out of the 22. Of a total 149 soldiers and sailors there were just 49 survivors using their “Floated Boats”.

Interesting anecdote

The collective effort and resourcefulness of the sailors allowed for some to be rescued while many were destined to lose their lives. The story focuses on two technical sailors on their individual resourcefulness.


Name of person submitting the story

Andrew Campbell


AMMC Member Institution

HMAS Castlemaine

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