RAN 20th Century Diary

Imperial Conference on Naval Defence recommends the establishment of an Australian Fleet Unit. The new fleet unit consisting of a battle Cruiser, three Light Cruisers, Six Destroyers and three Submarines, to be paid for and controlled by Australia. In other words a separate and independent Australian Navy.



Naval Defence Act passed. Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson representing Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fisher, arrives to advise on Naval Defence. Torpedo Boat Destroyers Yarra and Parramatta arrive in Melbourne 10 December.



The Title Royal Australian Navy granted by King George V. Naval Board reconstituted with Rear Admiral Sir William Rooke Creswell as First naval Member. Battle Cruiser HMAS Australia launched on the Clyde. Administration of the Commonwealth Naval Forces reorganized and transferred from Victoria Barracks to Navy Office, Lonsdale Street Melbourne.



Flinders naval Base Commenced. Williamstown Naval Depot commissioned as HMAS Cerberus 1 July. HMAS Tingira commissioned as Boys Training Ship. HMAS Encounter lent by the Admiralty and commissioned into the RAN as HM Australian Ship. HMAS Warrego commissioned 1 June. Naval College established at Geelong, Victoria.



Australian Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Sir William Patey enters Sydney Harbour on 4th October. (Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Warrego, Parramatta, Yarra. Admiral Sir George King-Hall twenty second and last Commander-in-Chief Australia Station hauls down his Flag bringing Admiralty responsibility for the station to an end. All Naval establishments transferred to Commonwealth Control. RAN College begins first training course at Osbourne House Geelong.



World War 1 Begins. Australia and Melbourne capture German Samoa 30 August. Nauru captured by Melbourne. German New guinea surrenders. Submarine AE1 lost with all hands off New Britain. Australian Squadron operated as counter to Von Spee's German Pacific Squadron. Sydney Sinks Emden off the Cocos Islands, 9 November. AE2 In company of 2nd AIF Convoy, proceed to Mediterranean.



Australia sinks SS Eleonore Woerman off Falkland Islands. Australia becomes Flagship of Second Battle Cruiser Squadron based on Rosyth, Scotland. RAN College transferred to Jervis Bay. Melbourne and Sydney engaged on West Indies/North American Patrols. RAN Bridging Train (a special unit of the Naval Brigade) leave Australia. RAN Units begin Far Eastern Blockade patrols. Destroyer Huon commissioned. Submarine AE2 Lost in Sea of Marmora after heroic passage of the Dardenelles during Gallipoli Campaign. Cruise Adelaide laid down at Cockatoo Dock, Sydney.



Destroyers Swan and Torrens commissioned. Pioneer in German East Africa Campaign assisted in the destruction of German Cruiser Koenigsberg. Melbourne joined 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron in North Sea. RAN Bridging Train in Suez area. Australia collides with cruiser New Zealand and misses Battle of Jutland. HMAS Brisbane commissions. HMAS Pioneer paid off.



Sydney and Australia Successfully launch aircraft from specially erected platforms becoming first RAN Ships to do so. Sydney engages Zeppelin L43 in running fight. RAN Destroyer Flotilla proceeds to Mediterranean to begin Adriatic Anti-Submarine Patrols. German raider Wolfe mines Australian Waters sinking two ships. RAN Brigade minesweeping section formed.



Sydney and Melbourne continue North Sea Operations and Australian Destroyers carry on Adriatic Patrols. Armistice signed 11 November. Swan renders assistance to 'White' Russian forces in Sea of Azov. Australia, Sydney and Melbourne present at surrender of German Fleet at Scapa Flow.



Submarine Depot Ship Platypus and six J Class Submarines join the R.A.N. Australia, Melbourne, Sydney and the Destroyer Flotilla return to Sydney. Sloops Marguerite, Geranium and Mallow transferred to the RAN. Admiral Lord Jellicoe arrives in Australia to report on Naval Defence. Rear Admiral Creswell retires from the Naval Board. Rear Admiral J.S. Dumaresq, the first Australian born officer hoists his flag in Command of the Australian Fleet.



Destroyers Anzac (leader), Tasmania, Tattoo, Swordsman, Success and Stalwart commissioned into the RAN. Flinders Naval Base (later 'Depot') officially opened. Encounter paid off. HRH Prince of Wales reviews a fleet of 29 ships in Port Phillip. Naval Brigade becomes Royal Australian navy Reserve.



Williamstown Naval Depot closed down.  Australia Paid Off.  RAN Survey Service begins.



Washington Naval Treaty signed limiting the size and strength of the worlds navies the RAN suffers due to classification of being under the British navy.



Eight ships only in commission. Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, three destroyers, one sloop and one depot ship. Imperial Conference suggested that the RAN build or aquire four cruisers, six submarines and patrol vessels over a period of 13-14 years.



Australia scuttled off Sydney in accordance with Washington Treaty. Four J Class Submarines sold. Yarra paid off. Adelaide joins Royal Navy as first exchange cruiser. RAN adopts five year program calling for two heavy cruisers, two submarines and one seaplane carrier. RN special service squadron (Hood, Repulse and five light cruisers visit Australia - sailed accompanied by Adelaide.



Moresby commissioned for Survey work. Heavy Cruisers Australia and Canberra laid down. Submarines Otway and Oxley laid down. Stalwart paid off. Melbourne on exchange service with HMS Delhi.



Recruiting of boys into RAN ceased. Seaplane Carrier Albatross laid down at Cockatoo Dock. Torrens paid off.



Submarines Otway and Oxley Commissioned. Geranium paid off ending her career as a survey ship. Tingira paid off to become coal hulk in Sydney Harbour.



Australia and Canberra 8" Cruisers commissioned. Sydney, Tasmania, Swan, Warrego, Huon and Parramatta paid off. Melbourne paid off in Portsmouth England and sold as scrap.


Albatross commissioned. Depression era begins. Survey work ceases. Compulsory training ends. Moresby and Marguerite (Reserve Training Ship) paid off. General reduction in ships and personnel. Brisbane and Swordsman paid off. Sydney handed over to shipnbreakers.



Yarra, Parramatta, Warrego and swan handed over to ship breakers for dismantling. Torrens stripped and sunk by Canberra as practice target. Only four ships in commission - Australia, Canberra, Albatross and Anzac. Recruiting ceased. Naval College transferred from Jervis Bay to Flinders Naval Depot.



Anzac paid off - replaced by Tattoo. Huon sunk as target. Submarines Otway and Oxley returned to RN. Personnel reduced to 3,239.



RAN Recruiting resumed. Cadet entries to Naval College resumed. Mallow and Marguerite dismantled at Cockatoo Dock. First RAN College officers reach Commander rank. H.B. Farncomb and J.A. Collins. Total personnel reaches lowest point, 3,121



Survey ship Moresby re-commissioned. Stuart, Vampire, Voyager, Vendetta and Waterhen commissioned into the RAN on loan from the Royal Navy replacing obselete ANZAC and "S" and "T" Class destroyers.



HMS Sussex attached to Australian Squadron in exchange for HMAS Australia.



Cruiser Sydney (ex Phaeton) sommissioned. Brisbane recommisssions for passage to UK and disposal, Marguerite and Mallow sunk as targets. Anzac sold for scrap. Geranium scuttled off Sydney Heads.



Cruisers Sydney and Australia join RAN Squadron after Mediterraean Service. Sloop Yarra, built at Cockatoo commissioned.



Cruiser Hobart (ex Apollo) commissioned.


1939  WW11 Declared Sep 3rd.

Cruiser Perth (ex Amphion) commissioned. World War Two begins. RAN Strength; two eight inch cruisers, four six inch cruisers, five destroyers, two sloops,. Personnel 5,440 Permanent, 4,819 Reserves. Destroyers sail for Singapore and Mediterranean.



Australian built sloops Parramatta and Warrego commissioned. RAN destroyers, together with four RN destroyers form the 10th Destroyer Flotilla under command of Commander H.M.L Waller RAN. First AIF convoy sails from Fremantle 20th January. Yarra in ops in Persian Gulf. Sydney and Stuart bombard Bardia. Battle of Cape Spada - Sydney destroys Italian Cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni. Hobart in evacuation of Berbera, British Somaliland. Sydney, Stuart, Voyager and Vampire in battle Of Calabria. Australia in action at Dakar (Africa). Stuart sinks Italian Submarine Gondar. German Raiders Orion and Komet sink five ships off Nauru. Raider Pinguin and her Auxiliary Passat mine Sydney approaches, the Hobart Entrance, Bass Strait and St. Vincent's Gulf. Tribal Class Destroyer Arunta launched at Cockatoo Dockyard. Bathurst, first of 60 Australian-built Minesweepers (corvettes) launched at Cockatoo.



Canberra intercepts to German Supply ships in Indian Ocean. 10th Destroyer Flotilla assigned to Tobruk ('The Spud Run'). Mediterranean Operations continued, evacuation of Greece - Perth, Stuart, Vampire, Voyager, Vendetta and Waterhen. Evacuation of Crete - Perth, Stuart, Napier, and Nizam. Battle of Matapan - Perth, Stuart and Vendetta. Nestor Sinks German U Boat 127. Waterhen sunk on 'Tobruk Ferry Run". Kanimbla and Yarra seize vital areas in Persian Gulf. Parramatta sunk by German U Boat off Tobruk. Sydney lost with all hands after sinking German Raider Kormoran off Western Australian Coast. Perth in Syrian Campaign. Perth and Destroyers leave Mediterranean. Japanese bomb Singapore and Pearl Harbour. Vampire rescues survivors of Prince of Wales and Repulse sunk by Japanese aircraft in Malacca Straits. Womens Royal Australian Navy Service (WRANS) founded.



Vampire and HMS Thanet in action with Jap Destroyers off Malayan Coast. First air raid on Darwin 19th February seven RAN sailors killed. Yarra rescues survivors from burning troopship Empress of Asia at Singapore. Evacuation of Sumatra - six RAN ships take part. Perth takes part in Battle of Java Sea. Allied withdrawal from Java proceeds. Perth Sunk in Battle of Sunda Strait, 1st March. Yarra sunk in gallant fight against strong cruiser force. Vampire sunk by Jap dive bombers off Ceylon. Australia and Hobart in Coral Sea Battle. Napier, Nizam and Norman in Madagascan operations. Japanese midget submarines attack shipping in Sydney Harbour, depot ship Kuttabul sunk with loss of 21 sailors including two RN. Nestor sunk by German dive bombers in the Mediterranean. Deloraine sunk by Jap Sub I-124 off Darwin. Arunta sinks Jap Submarine RO33 off Port Moresby. Australia, Hobart and Canberra in Guadalcanal Campaign marking the beginning of the Allied Offensive against Jap forces in the Sth West Pacific. HMAS Quiberon sinks German U Boat 411. Loss of Canberra in Battle of Savo Island. Voyager wrecked off coast of Timor whilst landing guerilla troops. Iron Chiefton torpedoed, first vessel sunk by Jap Submarines off Australia's coast. Armidale sunk by Jap aircraft in Arafura Sea.



Australian warships continue there support in the New Guinea Campaign. Hospital ship Centaur sunk by Jap Submarine off Queensland Coast. Japanese submarine attacks in Australian coastal waters cease after sinking of Portmar; 19 ships sunk in two years but campaign defeated by convoy system. Shropshire commissioned into RAN to replace Canberra. Eight RAN minesweepers support landings in Sicily. Australia, Shropshire, Arunta and Warramunga engaged in landing at New Britain. Gascoyne, first Australian built frigate launched at Mort's Dock, Sydney.



Australian Squadron operates as bombardment group in the Admiralty Islands prior to landings. Pre landing bombardment of New Guinea, Biak and Morotai by RAN units. Australia, Arunta, Shropshire, Warramunga, Gascoyne, Manoora, Kanimbla and Westralia in Leyte - Philippines Campaign. Australia hit by Kamikazes. Shropshire and Arunta in battle of Surigao Strait, last naval surface battle of WW11. British Pacific Fleet formed 10th December, Captain J.A. Collins CB RAN appointed as Commodore 1st Class in command of Australian Squadron. First RANC graduate, in the first 1913 entry, appointed to the command.



RAN Units take part in Lingayen Landings. Australia suffers severe damage from Kamikazes, Germany Surrenders 7th May. RAN ships support first Borneo landings of the AIF 9th Div. RAN "N" Class destroyers in Burma Campaign. "N" and "Q" Class Destroyers take part in assault on Japanese home islands (July). First Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima 5th August. Japan surrenders 15th August. RAN reaches peak strength in July of 39,650, including 2,617 WRANS and 57 Nursing Sisters. RAN personnel war casualties 2,170 dead. RAN personnel awarded 502 British Medals and decorations. Nizam landed to occupy Yokosuka dockyard. Shropshire, Hobart and seven other RAN ships present at Japanese surrender ceremony aboard USS Missouri. Five RAN ships present at surrender at Rabaul. Three RAN ships present at surrender at Balikpapan.



General demobilization begins. Frigate Condamine commissions. Naval occupation force includes RAN ships.



Minesweeper Warranambool lost during sweeping operations in Barrier Reef at the cost of four lives. Australian ships continue to form part of the Occupation Forces in Japanese waters. Australia re commissioned after extensive repairs and refit. Battle Class destroyer Tobruk launched. Commodores J.A. Collins and H.B Farncomb promoted to Rear Admirals. First RANC Graduates to achieve Flag Rank.



Occupation Duties continue. Last member of WRANS discharged. Minesweeping of Australian coast ends. RANS disbanded. RAN Fleet Air Arm established. Three landing ships tank join RAN. Survey work intensifies. Rear Admiral Collins succeeds Admiral Sir Louis Hamilton as First Naval Member and Chief of Naval Staff. First RANC graduate to hold appointment.



HM Australian Squadron becomes HM Australian Fleet. Many RAN Ships are paid off to reserve. Adelaide scrapped. RAN ships still in Japanese waters as part of occupations forces.



From 1950 onwards the post war tempo Naval growth quickened. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 intensified demands for naval strength. Nine ships altogether were sent to operational theatres - Anzac, Tobruk, Bataan, and Warramunga each having two tours of duty, while Sydney, Culgoa, Murchison, Condamine and Shoalhaven each made one tour. In addition, since the formation of the Strategic Reserve RAN ships in rotation have served continuously from Singapore. the decision to hold large scale SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) maritime training exercises has resulted in the grouping together of many ships and aircraft representing the interested nations. The exercises have developed a high degree of efficiency in the combined fleets. Changes within the structure of the navy during this period were marked during this decade. The Women's Royal Australian Navy Service (WRANS) was re-established in 1951. the first of the big Daring Class Destroyers HMAS Voyager was launched in 1952, followed by her sister ships Vendetta and Vampire. Shropshire (1953 and Australia (1955) were handed over to the shipbreakers. The angled deck, steam catapult, mirror landing Aircraft Carrier HMAS Melbourne commissioned in October 1955, and the Fireflies and Sea Furies of yesteryear were replaced by Gannets and Sea Venom all weather jet fighters with helicopters in Air-Sea Rescue roles. The 'Q' Class Destroyers excepting Quality were rebuilt as fast Anti-Submarine Frigates. After 28 years at Flinders Naval Depot, the RAN College returned to Jervis Bay for the opening of the new scholastic year in 1958. Sir John Collins retired as First Naval Member, being succeeded by Sir Roy Dowling, who in turn was succeeded by Sir Henry Burrell. In November 1960, the government announced that the RAN would acquire six modern minesweepers, that a new survey ship would be constructed, and that a force of anti submarine helicopters would be acquired.



First Intake of trainees commenced training under National Service Scheme.



Fleet Oiler Tide Austral launched in UK loaned to RN as RFA Tide Austral.



First two RAN Destroyers Arunta and Warramunga allotted to Far East Strategic Reserve to help combat communist emergency in Malay Peninsular.



Last Call Up of national Service Trainees discharged.



Yarra Launched - first of six anti submarine frigates type 12 (later destroyer escorts). Others - Parramatta (1959), Stuart 1961, Derwent 1961, Swan 1967, Torrens 1968.



First Intake of 15 year old Junior Recruits arrive at HMAS Leeuwin to begin training at JRTE (Junior Recruit Training Establishment) Fremantle. Armament store carrier Woomera sinks off Sydney after explosion and fire during ammunition dumping operations. Two sailors killed.



Survey Ship Moresby launched



Destroyer Voyager sunk off NSW coast in collision with aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, 82 lives lost in RAN's worst peacetime disaster. All losses from Voyager. RANSS re-established. End of Communist Emergency. Australia agrees to keep forces in Malaya/Singapore area as part of FESR. With formation of Federation of Malaysia in 1963, Indonesia institutes a campaign of "confrontation". RAN destroyers, frigates and minesweepers allotted for duty in Borneo/Malaya/Singapore areas to counteract Indonesian activities. The first allotments for 'special overseas service' were Gull and Hawk.



RAN Logistic Support in Vietnam Conflict begins with departure of Sydney (former aircraft carrier converted to fast troop carrier) from Sydney on first voyage. Oxley launched first of 6 Oberon Class Submarines. Otway 1966, Ovens 1967, Onslow 1968, Orion 1974, Otama 1975.



Confrontation ended with Malaysian/Indonesian agreement. Destroyer tender Stalwart launched.



First contingent of Clearance Diving Teams depart for Vietnam. Australian White Ensign hoisted for first time. Guided missile destroyer Hobart allotted for duty for 'Gunline' duty in Vietnam. Patrol Boat Attack launched first of Attack Class of 20. First contingent of RANHFV depart for Vietnam.



RAN Personnel attached to 9 Squadron RAAF serving in Vietnam.



Destroyer USS Frank E. Evans sunk in collision with Melbourne in Sth China Sea, with loss of 74 lives (all from Evans).




Vice Admiral Sir Victor Smith KBE CB DSC promoted Admiral on appointment as chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee. First Australian born officer to attain the rank.



End of RAN's operational committment in Vietnam (Sydney still involved in logistic support role during 1972. Balikpapan launched in Army Ceremony (served with Army until commissioned into RAN in 1974) First of eight Landing Craft (Heavy).



Survey Ship HMAS Flinders launched.



North West Cape Agreement amended to provide stationing of Australian personnel at North West Cape W.A. Patrol Boats Aitape, Ladava, Lae, Madang, Samarai, & LCHs Buna and Salamaua and establishment Tarangau (Lombrum) paid off and transferred to PNGDF in preparation for PNGs Independence (1975). Darwin devastated by Cyclone "Tracy" on Christmas Day. HMAS Arrow sunk with loss of two lives. Naval Headquaters destroyed. Flagship Melbourne and five other RAN Ships sailed for DARWIN at very short notice loaded with provisions and disaster relief supplies. Other ships followed soon after. Navy carried out a total of 17,979 relief tasks ashore.



Naval Board abolished and functions assumed by CNS...CDFS (later CDF replaced Chairman, CSC.



Former Australia National Line roll on-Roll off ship Australian Trader commissioned as Training Ship HMAS JERVIS BAY (before completion of conversion). Oceanographic ship HMAS COOK Launched.



HMAS Adelaide launched first of 4 FFG's built in USA.



HMAS Fremantle launched in UK (first of 15 FCPB's).



Heavy Lift Ship HMAS TOBRUK launched.



HMAS Melbourne paid off



Newly elected Labour Government decides not to replace Aircraft Carrier Melbourne



Fleet Underway Replenishment Ship HMAS SUCCESS launched. Junior Recruit Training ends. WRANS and RANSS abolished - members become members of RAN.



Keel laid for AF05 (HMAS Melbourne) first of two FFGs to be built at Williamstown, Melbourne.