Krait in Broken Bay during World War II
|Fate:||Museum ship 1985|
|Tonnage:||68 gross tons|
|Length:||21.33 metres (70.0 ft)|
|Beam:||3.35 metres (11.0 ft)|
|Draught:||1.5 metres (4.9 ft)|
|Propulsion:||Gardner 6LW diesel|
|Range:||8,000 miles (13,000 km)|
The MV Krait is a wooden-hulled vessel famous for its use during World War II by the Z Special Unit (Z Force) of Australia during the raid against Japanese ships anchored in Singapore Harbour. The raid was known as Operation Jaywick.
The MV Krait is on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in Sydney. The vessel was moved to Michael Bartley Shipwrights for hull restoration works at Woolwich. MV Krait has now returned to ANMM for continuation of her restoration by Museum Shipwrights and Engineers to the 1943 configuration representing the time of the Singapore raid. Installations such as Radio room representations, long range tanks and associated pipework have been installed along with galley module added to aft deck.
Krait was originally a Japanese fishing vessel based in Singapore named Kofuku Maru. Following the outbreak of war, the ship was taken over by Allied forces and used to evacuate over 1,100 people from ships sunk along the east coast of Sumatra. The ship eventually reached Australia via Ceylon and India in 1942, and was handed over to the Australian military. In Australian service, she was renamed Krait after the small but deadly snake, and also because it sounds like the word "crate", which described its appearance to some.[who?]
In September 1943, Krait transported members of Z Special Unit to Singapore, where they successfully raided the city's harbour, sinking seven ships. She returned to Australia in October. Krait was used by the Australian military throughout the war, and was present at the surrender of the Japanese forces on Ambon in September 1945.
Krait was later used as transport for intelligence-gathering missions to islands in the area, including Buru, Aru, Ceram, Banda, and Saparua. During this period, she carried several Japanese prisoners, army survey teams, and a naval intelligence officer.
At Ambon, the boat acquired a monkey as a mascot. He was named Peter and had lost his tail. Peter remained with the crew until Krait finished her service and was towed to Morotai. She was then sailed to Labuan, where she was sold and handed over to the British Borneo Company and where Able Seaman Robert Harry Easom of Perth kept its ensign as a souvenir. That ensign is now on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
After its sale, Krait was operated off Borneo until she was purchased for use as an Australian Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol vessel in 1964. On Anzac Day 1964, Krait was formally dedicated as a war memorial by the governor of NSW. A plaque was affixed to the wheelhouse and is shown below. She was then acquired by the Australian War Memorial in 1985 and was lent to the Australian National Maritime Museum, where she has been displayed to the public since 1988.
Since the success of Krait on Operation Jaywick, Australian Commando Unit vessels have traditionally used the names of venomous snakes. This tradition continues with Red Viper and Coral Snake as current examples.