HMAS Princess Irene (ML-1915 (1937-mod))


Back to Ship Index


In a perfect world HMS Princess Irene blew up at Sheerness in 1915 from an internal explosion with the loss of 352 lives. A disaster that killed more than the number of crew assigned to the ship (225). Dockyard workers, other officers and men down to a girl of nine on another ship nearby died in the explosion. Because four ships had exploded at or near naval instalations the navy investigated looking for a saboteur. It was not sabotage just accidental causes leading from mishandling of explosives through lack of training. When a Navy expands at the rate that the Royal Navy did during 1914-15 then it is quite possible that some people could end up in positions they maybe should not have.


In my world both HMS Princess Margaret and HMS Princess Irene survive to be bought by the Australis Navy in the 1920's for use in the north to lay mines in strategic places during time of war. Namely between the islands of the Indonesian Archipelago from Sumatra down to Papua-New Guinea. Fast destroyers would do the furthest away while the two Princesses would do the nearer and coastal regions.


Both ships were originally being built for the Northwest passages trade between Seattle to Alaska for a Canadian concern. Requisitioned in 1914 both ships were converted to auxilliary minelayers with a large minedeck being cleared where cabins had been previously. A slot on the stern being opened and covered with doors to allow the mines to drop into the wake of the ship.

Both ships were used in the evacuation of Singapore where the mine deck and other cabins provided temporary accomodation to many hundreds of civilians then military personnel. The ships speed was also usefull when they were used twice to take essential supplies to Malta with other fast merchant ships.


Displacement 5,000 tons std, 6300 tons full load
Length 395.5 ft
Breadth 54 ft
Draught 17 ft
Machinery 2 shaft steam turbines, 15,000shp
Speed 23 knots
Range 6500 miles at 15 knots
Armour nil
Armament 4 x 4" (4x1)

7 x 20mm (1x2 5x1)

Aircraft nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 240
Notes could carry 400 mines.


Both ships during their WW1 service. The mine door is visible at the stern of HMS Princess Irene on the left.


Back to Ship Index