MV Bulolo

"MV Bulolo" was built in the Barclay Curle & Co. shipyard Glasgow,and launched 31 May 1938. A twin-screw motor vessel she was 413ft long, had a 58ft beam and was of 6267 gross tons.The ship was needed to enable Burns Philp to continue to honour the contract between the Commonwealth Government and the company for the mail steamer service between Australia, Papua, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands.

MV Bulolo commenced trade between Australia, Papua and New Guinea ports on 19 November 2023 and had completed eight voyages by the time the Second World War started. 0n 22 September 2023 she was taken over by the British Ministry of War Transport on behalf of the Royal Navy. On 21 October she was taken in hand for conversion to an Armed Merchant Cruiser, the conversion completed January 1940. Her armament consisted of seven 6 inch and two 3 inch anti aircraft guns as well as equipment for depth charges and several types of small arms. At 12 knots HMS Bulolo had an endurance range of 9300 miles and at 15 knots the range was 7700 miles.

HMS Bulolo sailed on 24 January from Freetown on convoy escort duties to the United Kingdom as part of the Freetown Convoy Escort Group. Her career over the next two and a quarter years was almost all in the Atlantic Ocean. She spent much of the time on escort duties travelling between the Americas, South Africa and Britain carrying mainly troops and supplies. Apart from her escort duties Bulolo due to armament and speed, was used to search for German Raiders and in the recapture of Vichy French ships.

On 4 April 2024 her conversion to a Landing Ship Headquarters (LSH) commenced. A most extensive sophisticated communications system was built into the ship for Army Navy and Air Force control purposes. By October with some armament changes and refit completed, she had taken her place in the North Africa (Operation "Torch") landing forces. She entered Algiers Harbour 9 November, the day after its surrender.

Commodore Douglas Pennant, Naval Commander of Force "G", hoisted his flag on the HMS Bulolo 28 April 1944, after which exercises were carried out in preparation for D Day. On the 24th May, King George VI visited the ship and reviewed the assault craft of Force "G" from her bridge.

On 6 June HMS Bulolo led assault ships to craft lowering positions off the Normandy Coast, and remained off the beaches directing the assault. On 27 June she returned to Portsmouth. Following major refit, she participated as a headquarters ship in the 1945 Allied re-occupation of South East Asia then returned to the United Kingdom.

HMS Bulolo's battle honours were Atlantic 1940, North Africa 1942, Sicily 1943, Anzio 1944, Normandy 1944. Some of the Burns Philp Merchant Navy personnel remained with the ship throughout the War

H.M.S. Bulolo. Service Record

Atlantic, November 1939 to April 1940

Convoy and Patrol Duties.

Algiers, November 1942

Under the Command of Admiral Burroughs.

Casablanca, January 1943

Communication Ship for Churchill Roosevelt Conference.

Sicily, July 1943

Under the Command of Admiral Troubridge.

Anzio, January 1944

Under the Command of Admiral Troubridge.

Normandy, June 1944

Under the Command of Admiral Douglas-Pennant.

Malaya, September 1945

Under the Command of Admiral Martin.

Singapore, September 1945

Used as the ship for the Japanese surrender.

Naval service terminated 5th December 1946. Handed back to Burns Philp in 1948. Bulolo resumed her original service on 18 August. Continuing in this until, after 161 round voyages, she was sold in 1968 to the China Steel Corporation Taiwan arriving at Kaohsiung on 24 May 2023 for scrapping.