HMAS Berrima was an Armed Merchant Cruiser
Armed merchantman is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail, piracy and privateers, many merchantmen would be routinely armed, especially those engaging in long distance and high value...
which served in the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...
(RAN) during World War I.
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century. Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the P&O...
passenger liner SS Berrima was requisitioned for use by the Navy, refitted and armed at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard and commissioned into the RAN as the auxiliary cruiser HMAS Berrima.
Berrima left Sydney on 19 August 1914 carrying men of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force was a small volunteer force of approximately 2,000 men, raised in Australia shortly after the outbreak of the First World War to seize and destroy German wireless stations in German New Guinea in the south-west Pacific...
, consisting of a battalion of 1,000 infantry and a small battalion of 500 Naval Reservists
Royal Australian Naval Reserve
The Royal Australian Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Australian Navy in Australia.The current Royal Australian Naval Reserve was formed in June 1973 by merging the former RANR and the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve....
and time-expired Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...
seaman, for operations against the German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...
colonies. Troops were landed at Herbertshöhe and Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...
on 11 and 12 September respectively, and on the New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...
mainland on 24 September. The ship was retroactively awarded the battle honour
A battle honour is an award of a right by a government or sovereign to a military unit to emblazon the name of a battle or operation on its flags , uniforms or other accessories where ornamentation is possible....
"Rabaul 1914" in March 2010 to recognise these landings. Berrima subsequently returned to Sydney and, despite plans to employ her as an armed merchant cruiser, she was paid off in October and converted to a troop transport.
In her new role, HMATT (His Majesty's Australian Troop Transport) Berrima sailed for the Middle East in December 1914 as part of the second troop convoy, carrying Australian and New Zealand troops and towing the submarine . Berrima continued to work under the liner requisition scheme until 18 February 1917, when she struck a mine in the English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...
Isle of Portland
The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, long by wide, in the English Channel. Portland is south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A tombolo over which runs the A354 road connects it to Chesil Beach and the mainland. Portland and...
and was beached and later repaired.
Berrima was returned to commercial service 24 March 1920, and was sold to Japanese shipbreakers in September 1939.