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HMAS Castlemaine is one of sixty Australian Minesweepers, later known as corvettes, which were built as part of the Commonwealth's wartime building programme to increase the strength of the Royal Australian Navy. The programme called for a vessel of a size and with machinery that was capable of being built and maintained in Australia. HMAS Castlemaine was the third of eight corvettes constructed at Williamstown Dockyard in Melbourne. She was laid down in February 1941, launched in August and commissioned for naval service in June 1942. HMAS Castlemaine served in northern waters,along the eastern coast of Australia, around New Guinea, in the Philippines and at Hong Kong. She returned to Melbourne in December 1945 and was laid up, having steamed 117,000 miles on war service.HMAS Castlemaine was involved in a number of actions during World War 11, the most serious when, off Timor in December 1942 and in the company of her sister ship HMAS Armidale; both ships were bombed by Japanese aircraft. HMAS Armidale was sunk in the attacks.Between 1955 and 1973 the ship was deployed as a static training vessel at Flinders Naval Base in Victoria. She was then paid off for scrapping.In 1973 the vessel was gifted to the Maritime Trust for preservation as a museum ship and is now berthed at Gem Pier, Williamstown, close to her place of construction. She has been returned to her 1945 operational appearance. Visitors can inspect her crew and machinery spaces and the weapons she carried. The main crew space contains a large collection of maritime exhibits and memorabilia sure to interest any visitor. The volunteer crew will can provide a full tour of the ship and answer any questions relating to her history or her equipment.
Wheelchair access is available for the gangway and quarterdeck of the ship. The museum is accessible without the need to climb ladders but patrons must step through a watertight door to reach it. Some compartments and decks require persons to climb ladders.