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Navy Snapshot 1964-65

Navy Badge

THE Royal Australian Navy in 1964-65


THE Royal Australian Navy is combining a period of rapid expansion of ships and manpower with a programme of increasing operational activity.


  • Ten new ships are on order for the fleet;

  • Manpower strength is rising by 1,000 a year; and

  • To-day’s fleet is undertaking increasing operational commitments in the defence of Australia, her Commonwealth partners, and her allies.


These factors reflect the R.A.N. today—a Navy preparing for the future while maintaining a versatile force to meet current commitments at home and overseas. R.A.N. ships steamed over half a million miles during the past year, and the Navy is now contributing to the security of Malaysian Borneo as part of an additional contribution to the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.


New ships for the Navy are taking shape in shipyards in Australia, Britain and America. The first of the three CHARLES F. ADAMS Class guided missile destroyers will commission in the United States before the end of this financial year, while in Britain construction is under way on the first of the four OBERON Class submarines.


Derwent Ikara Firing 1965

In Australia, work has begun on an Escort Maintenance Ship, and will start soon on two new anti-submarine frigates. Keeping pace with the building of the ships is the training of the officers and men. On 30th June 1964, 47 officers and men were training for the Guided Missile Destroyers in the United States, and 95 for the Submarines in Britain.


The manpower strength of the R.A.N. increased by close on 1,000 during 1963-64, and is expected to rise by approximately 1,100 during the current financial year.


The Navy’s projected expenditure of some £69.2 million during 1964-65 represents an increase of £13.7 million over the previous financial year.


The past year has seen the introduction of significant new ships and weapons.


H.M.A.S.  Derwent, which commissioned in April 1964, was the R.A.N.’s first ship with anti-aircraft missiles and variable depth sonar.


Left: Derwent’s SEACAT close-range sea-to-air missiles have performed well in trial firings. Also, the development of the Australian designed anti-submarine missile system, IKARA, has continued successfully.



Operationally, the Navy’s ability to respond to any requirement was demonstrated when called upon to contribute to Australia’s assistance to Malaysia.


In May-June 1964, the fast troop transport, H.M.A.S. Sydney, took Army and R.A.A.F. personnel, equipment and stores to Borneo and Malaya. Within two weeks of a decision to assist Malaysia with anti-infiltration patrols, two R.A.N. minesweepers, H.M.A. Ships Hawk and Gull, were on their way to Borneo.


They were subsequently joined by two sister ships, Curlew and Snipe. The R.A.N. will maintain four minesweepers assisting Malaysian and British craft on patrols off the coast of Sarawak. Earlier, the ships of the R.A.N.’s minesweeping squadron had featured in Australia’s biggest minesweeping operation for 20 years. Accompanied by the Fleet tanker, H.M.A.S. Supply, they swept Tonolei Harbour, in Bougainville, to permit the commercial development of the timber resources of the area.


This Task Force visited New Guinea ports, as have other units of the Fleet.


The destroyer, H.M.A.S. Anzac, took the Governor-General, Lord De L’Isle, on a tour of island territories before the official opening of the New Guinea Parliament in June 1964.




The R.A.N. has had at least two ships serving with the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve throughout the year, and the flagship, the carrier, H.M.A.S. Melbourne, undertook her annual tour of duty in South East Asian waters. She took part in comprehensive exercises with ships of the British Far East Fleet, and operated her Front-Line Squadrons of fixed-wing aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters.


The exercises provided the R.A.N.’s new Wessex anti-submarine helicopters with their first experience outside of Australian waters.


Ships of the Fleet have taken part in a regular programme of exercises at home and overseas.


A destroyer, two frigates and the Fleet tanker Supply took part in the annual SEATO Exercise, called LIGTAS. H.M.A.S. Supply led the British Commonwealth replenishment force which supported the assault on the Philippines’ island of Mindoro in the exercise.


Operations have taken Fleet ships to 78 different overseas ports during the 1963-64 financial year. Among countries visited were Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia.


In Australian waters, some 4,000 men of the Australian and New Zealand Services combined in a maritime exercise called “Carbine “. It was the first major test for H.M.A.S. Sydney since her conversion as a Fast Troop Transport. An Australian-New Zealand Naval Task Force escorted Sydney to an Army landing area in Queensland.


Surveying and Research


At home, supporting units of the Fleet have continued to make their important contribution to hydrographic surveying and oceanographic research. The R.A.N. Hydrographic Service completed the extensive survey of Spencer Gulf in South Australia; established shipping lanes in north-western Australia for proposed iron ore ports; and began a new survey off the east coast of Tasmania. In New Guinea, H.M.A.S. Paluma pushed ahead with surveys along the south coast of Papua and in the Bismarck Archipelago. Paluma is working continuously in the territories.


During 1964-65, the surveying ships will be active in the Torres Straits and will continue the surveys begun in Tasmania and the Bismarck Archipelago.


The oceanographic programme, in co-operation with the C.S.I.R.O., is continuing in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The work is undertaken by the frigates, H.M.A. Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, which combine seamanship training with the oceanographic research.


Fishery surveillance in Northern Australian waters, and coastwatching, are other tasks undertaken by the R.A.N.