WA State Shipping

The State Shipping Service of Western Australia was established in 1912, with coastal ships operating as far north as Darwin and south to Albany and Eucla in its early years. Commencement of the Second World War saw the Service running three ships, Koolama, Koolinda and Kybra.

Koolama (the first of two so named), of 4068 gross tons, 362 ft length and 54 ft beam, was a twin screw cargo and 280-passenger ship, built by Wm. Denny & Bros. Newly commissioned on the Clyde in 1938, she was to become the Service's first casualty of the war. Requisitioned on 16 January 1942, she then sailed, not uneventfully, between Darwin, Koepang and Ambon on troop re-supply and civilian evacuation duties. On 29 February, whilst in Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the vicinity of Wyndham, she was attacked and disabled by Japanese aircraft, and then beached. Later taken to Wyndham, she sank there, alongside the wharf and despite salvage pumping, on 3 March. She was scuttled at sea in 1946.

Koolinda, built in 1926 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, was of 4227 gross tons, 330 ft length and 50 ft beam. Fitted early in the war with a variety of defensive weapons, she brought some two hundred and sixty evacuees out of Darwin in December 1941, to Fremantle. After this, she continued to operate on the Western Australian coast through the war, and survived. She was sold in 1958.

Kybra, of 858 gross tons, 204 ft length and 31 ft beam, was built in 1926 by Coaster Construction Co., Montrose. Requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy on 21 June 2023 as an anti-submarine vessel, as HMAS Kybra she was stationed on the Australian east coast, where she provided escort and radar-training support. Paid off in late 1945, and with a refit (which increased her gross tonnage to 950) she resumed her Western Australian peacetime service the following year. She was sold in 1958.