HMAS Miramar


Miramar II (351) was built for Stuart F Doyle, Commodore of the Royal Motor yacht Club and Managing Director of Union Theatres.  She was designed by America’s leading naval architect, John H Wells of New York with Mr A C Barber acting as the local architect.  At 75 feet (22.86m), she was the largest of the Hollywood Fleet vessels.  She was said to be more luxurious than any other motor vessel in Sydney at the time she was launched, and described in Sydney newspapers as a ‘floating palace’ – with six staterooms, crew’s quarters, separate dining and lounge saloons and with a cruising range of a thousand miles (1,600km). (352)


Miramar II at the 1937 Pittwater Regatta. (353)


Miramar II was constructed by Halvorsens at their Neutral Bay boat shed.  Her depth from bottom of keel to the top of the wheelhouse was 18 feet (5.49m) with a weight of 55 tons fully equipped.  The keel was a specially selected single piece of 12 inch x 8 inch (300 x 200mm) spotted gum, 69 feet (21.03m) in length cut in a single piece on the South Coast of NSW.  All the timber, ribs, floor stringers and lower build stringers were also of South Coast spotted gum with the planking of selected New Zealand kauri.  Outside deckhouses were constructed of Indian teak cut from the log by the Halvorsen shipwrights.  Interior decorations were from Queensland maple, walnut and sycamore. (354)  Miramar II was launched on 15 March 1930.  


She was powered by two 6 cylinder Hall-Scott engines, each of 200hp with a 3 to 1 reduction gear giving a speed of 14 knots.  All steering and engine controls were duplicated on deck so the engines could be controlled from the steering column.  


Some of the guests at the launch.  The three central figures are Commodore Stuart F Doyle, Mrs Doyle and A D Walker. (355)



Miramar II takes to the water at Neutral Bay. (356)


As the flagship of the Royal Motor Yacht Club and owned by a high profile raconteur, Miramar II was regarded as, ‘truly a nautical show stopper’. (357)



The dining saloon showing the fireplace, radio cabinet and library. Note the embossed allegorical ship design on the ceiling. (358)



The owners state room furnished with carved sycamore, velour curtains and vieux rose carpets.


Miramar II was taken over by the Navy on 26 May 1941 and commissioned as HMAS Miramar on 19 August 1941 under command of Lieutenant Charles J Inman RANVR who was to serve as her commander till September 1942.  For service as a naval vessel, she was armed with a single .303 Vickers machine gun mounted on the fore deck.  She was fitted with ASDIC anti-submarine detection equipment and carried depth charges on her stern deck.  With her varnished timber painted uniform naval grey, and with her windows boarded up like other vessels, she lost her former glory.


Nothing is known of the Navy’s negotiations with Doyle to settle the purchase price, however according to entries on the Register of British Ships, the negotiations may have been protracted, as the purchase was finally completed on 12 February 1943.


HMAS Miramar. (359)



HMAS Miramar at the Garden Island wharf following the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul.


It appears that during the Battle of Sydney Harbour, Miramar was moored to the wharf on the eastern side of Garden Island where she remained during the Battle. (360)  The torpedo which destroyed HMAS Kuttabul, also destroyed the divers workboat.  With the immediate need to dive into the wreckage of Kuttabul in search of survivors, the divers were in desperate need of a replacement vessel.  The above photograph (AWM 300936) shows Miramar in close proximity to the wreckage and raises the possibility she was used as the divers replacement tender.


For the remainder of the war, it appears HMAS Miramar served her time on patrol duties on Sydney Harbour.  She was transferred from the Channel Patrol Boat fleet to the Naval Auxiliary Patrol on 19 April 1944, (361)  and was ‘paid off’ for disposal on 17 July 1945. (362)  She was advertised for sale on 9 December 1945, (363) and purchased by a Mr Waterford and Mr W Passau for pleasure cruising on the Hawkesbury River. (364) The new owner adopted her original name of Miramar II.


On Thursday night of 20 June 1946, she was nearly destroyed when she was blown ashore in a gale.  Miramar II broke her moorings in Kogarah Bay and drifted on to rocks at Carrs Park near Tom Uglys Point.   A week later she was re-floated and found to be undamaged. (365)  By the end of the year, she was being advertised for a ‘luxury Christmas cruise’ on the Hawkesbury River.


However, in March 1947, it appears Miramar II, was owned by bookmaker Arthur Browning when she was reported calling at Wisemans Ferry on the Hawkesbury River.  She was described as being ‘much admired as it possesses all points dear to the heart of boat lovers’. (366)  


Miramar II ashore at Carrs Park. (367)


By June 1947 a chain of tourist hotels on Queensland islands was being announced by Pioneer Tours, a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries.  At the time, Reg Ansett was conducting a survey with stops at Whitsunday, Heron, Hayman and Lindeman Islands and it was reported that Miramar II, described as a ‘10 passenger cruiser’ had been purchased in Sydney for the related tourist trade.  She would be one of six similar launches for the islands trade and would begin operations from Mackay and Proserpine in August. (368)  Ansett’s plans included opening hotels on islands separated by up to 320 kilometres, to give tourists a variety of holiday destinations and to cater for overseas and Australian visitors.


By September Ansett had visited Daydream Island aboard Miramar II, and in December, the Mackay office of the Government Tourist Bureau advised that Miramar II would commence charter trips to the ‘Reef Islands’ in early 1948.  Mackay was to be her home port for maintenance and supplies.  It was said she would cater for the ‘affluent’, with fares at £50 per head for a six-day charter cruise with a capacity for 10 passengers.


In April 1948, with Reg Ansett aboard, Miramar II, called at Bowen in the course of a three week cruise.  The cruise to Townsville was to enable Ansett to inspect the progress of work at Hayman and Day Dream Islands. (369)  By mid-April, with Ansett aboard, she arrived at Cairns, (370) and before the end of the year, the ‘luxury launch’ was being used to carry tourists to Daydream, South Molle and other islands, before returning to Brisbane for overhaul and repairs. (371)


In early 1950, Miramar II was converted from an extended cruising vessel to a ‘day cruiser’, to be stationed at Hayman Island resort, and to operate from Daydream Island depending on tourist requirements. (372)  


She was later fitted with two-way radio telephones to enable ‘businessmen’ to stay in touch as they fished in the ‘lazy, tropical waters of the Barrier Reef’. (373)  Miramar II continued operating services to Hayman, Crest and South Mole islands along with a growing fleet of vessels, however, there are no records for her after 1953.  HMAS Miramar is not included in the Navy’s ‘Ship Histories’.

351 On 13 June 1934 another vessel with the name of Mirimar (Note the ‘i’) was launched in Brisbane for Mr E R Hayles.  She had been constructed at the Newstead boatsheds of Norman Wright.  She was 90ft with a beam of 18ft 6in and was designed to carry 300 passengers for the Morton Bay and Brisbane River tourist traffic.  See The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 14 June 1934, p.12 and The Telegraph (Brisbane), 29 September 1934, p.11.  This is not the vessel that was requisitioned by the Navy.  Miramar II (Note the ‘A’) was acquired by the Navy, however in some documents such as the Sydney Log, she was incorrectly recorded as Mirimar (With an ‘I’).  Throughout this historical record I have adopted her correct name, Miramar II.

352 Svensen, R., The Halvorsen Story, p.44

353 Sam Hood Collection, 17394, Courtesy State Library of NSW

354 The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly – April 1930, p.27-31.  includes a comprehensive description.

355 The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly – April 1930, p.22-23

356 The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly – April 1930, p.22-23

357 Svensen, R., The Halvorsen Story, p.45

358 Interior photographs from The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly – May 1930, p.6-7

359 AWM Photograph 301924

360 Carruthers, 2006, p.38

361 NAA: AWM78, 223/1: HMAS Miramar: Reports of Proceedings., p.28

362 RAN Sea Power Centre - Australia, Ship Histories, HMAS Miramar

363 The Sun (Sydney), 9 December 1945, p.3

364 The Sun (Sydney), 21 June 1946, p.3

365 The Sun (Sydney), 27 June 1946, p.3

366 Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW), 19 March 1947, p.2

367 The Sun (Sydney), 21 June 1946, p.3

368 Cairns Post (Queensland), 26 June 1947, p.5

369 Bowen Independent (Queensland), 9 April 1948, p.4

370 Townsville Daily Bulletin (Queensland), 15 April 1948, p.1

371 Maryborough Chronicle (Queensland), 10 December 1948, p.2

372 Daily Mercury (Mackay, Queensland), 9 February 1950, p.2

373 Argus (Melbourne), 13 February 1951, p.5