The Queensland Maritime Defence Force boasted 5 auxiliary gunboats; named Bonito, Bream, Dolphin, Pumba, and Stingaree.
Upon establishment of Queensland’s Maritime Defence Force in 1884, the colonial government ordered two gunboats and a torpedo boat to equip the new force.
However it was considered that, given the number of ports along Queensland’s 4,400 mile coastline, additional ships would be required to supplement those vessels.
Orders had already been placed (with Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, Queensland), for five ships for the Queensland Department of Harbours and Rivers; when the decision was taken to convert them to also serve as auxiliary gunboats.
The modifications involved relocation of the boilers below the waterline and the fitting of a 5-inch gun to all except Bonito which had a 64-pounder gun fitted instead.
(width at widest point)
(depth in water)
|Displacement||450 tons||446 cubic meters|
|Propulsion||Expansion Steam Engines|
|Expansion Steam Engines
|Armament||1 × BL 5-inch gun|
1 × 64-pounder gun
|1 × BL 127 mm gun
1 × 64-pounder gun
|Manufactured by||Walkers Limited|
|Manufactured at||Maryborough, Queensland|
|In commission||Bonito 1884 - at least 1901|
Bream 1884 - at least 1901
Dolphin 1884 - at least 1901
Pumba 1884 - 1901
Stingaree 1884 - 1895
At 450 displacement tons, these were the largest warships built in the Australian colonies prior to Federation.
The economic depression of the 1890s, and reduction in government spending, saw most of these vessels placed in reserve and being used for training purposes.
Service and Disposal
Stingaree served until 1895
Pumba remained on strength at the time of Federation in 1901. It was then sold to Pioneer Gravels (Queensland). She was rebuilt in 1958 and renamed Enterprise, serving as a cargo vessel beyond the late 1970s.
Following careers in civilian hands, the three other vessels were sunk in Moreton Bay off Tangalooma. Moreton Island. Bream and Dolphin in 1963 and Stingaree in 1966.