Royal Australian Navy
2002 RAN badge.jpg
Founded10 July 1911
Country Australia
BranchNavy
RoleNaval warfare
Size15,285 Permanent personnel[1]
3,932 Reserve personnel[1]
44 vessels[2]
Part ofAustralian Defence Force
HeadquartersRussell Offices, Canberra
Motto(s)To fight and win at sea.[3]
March"Royal Australian Navy"
Anniversaries10 July
Engagements
Websitewww.navy.gov.au
Commanders
Commander-in-chiefGovernor-General David Hurley as representative of Charles III as King of Australia[4]
Chief of the Defence ForceGeneral Angus Campbell
Vice Chief of the Defence ForceVice Admiral David Johnston
Chief of NavyVice Admiral Mark Hammond
Deputy Chief of NavyRear Admiral Christopher Smith
Commander Australian FleetRear Admiral Jonathan Earley
Insignia
Naval ensign
Naval Ensign of Australia.svg
Naval jack
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Sovereign's Colour
Queen

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the principal naval force of Australia, a part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force. The Navy is commanded by the Chief of Navy (CN), who is subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) who commands the ADF;[5] the current CN is Vice Admiral Mark Hammond. The CN is also directly responsible to the Minister of Defence, with the Department of Defence administering the ADF and the Navy.

Formed in 1901, as the Commonwealth Naval Forces, through the amalgamation of the Australian colonial navies following the Federation of Australia. Although it was originally intended for local defence, it became increasingly responsible for the defence of the region as the United Kingdom started to diminish its forces in the Pacific.

The Royal Australian Navy was initially a green-water navy, and where the Royal Navy provided a blue-water force to the Australian Squadron, which the Australian and New Zealand governments helped to fund, and that was assigned to the Australia Station. This period lasted until 1913, when naval ships purchased from Britain arrived, although the British Admiralty continued to provide blue-water defence capability in the Pacific up to the early years of the Second World War.[6]

During its history, the Royal Australian Navy has participated in a number of major wars, including the First and Second World Wars, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation and the Vietnam War. Today, the RAN consists of 43 commissioned vessels, 4 non-commissioned vessels and over 16,000 personnel. The navy is one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the South Pacific region, with a significant presence in the Indian Ocean and worldwide operations in support of military campaigns and peacekeeping missions.

History

Main article: History of the Royal Australian Navy

Formation

The Commonwealth Naval Forces were established on 1 March 1901, with the amalgamation of the six separate colonial naval forces, following the Federation of Australia. The Royal Australian Navy initially consisted of the former New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland, Western Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian ships and resources of their disbanded navies.

The Defence Act 1903 established the operation and command structure of the Royal Australian Navy.[7] When policymakers sought to determine the newly established force's requirements and purpose, there were arguments about whether Australia's naval force would be structured mainly for local defence or designed to serve as a fleet unit within a larger imperial force, controlled centrally by the British Admiralty.[8] In 1908–09, a compromise solution was pursued, with the Australian government agreeing to establish a force for local defence but that would be capable of forming a fleet unit within the Royal Navy, albeit without central control. As a result, the navy's force structure was set at "one battlecruiser, three light cruisers, six destroyers and three submarines". The first of the RAN's new vessels, the destroyer HMAS Yarra (I), was completed in September 1910, and by the outbreak of the First World War the majority of the planned fleet had been realised.[9] On 10 July 1911, King George V granted the service the title of "Royal Australian Navy".[10]

World War I

Pacific

Following the declaration of war on the Central Powers, the British War Office tasked the capture of German New Guinea to the Australian Government. This was to deprive the Imperial German Navy's East Asia Squadron of regional intelligence by removing their access to wireless stations. On 11 August, three destroyers and HMAS Sydney prepared to engage the squadron at German Anchorages in New Guinea, which did not eventuate as the vessels were not present. Landing parties were placed on Rabaul and Herbertshohe to destroy its German wireless station; however, the objective was found to be further inland and an expeditionary force was required. Meanwhile, HMAS Australia was tasked with scouring the Pacific Ocean for the German squadron.

The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) began recruiting on the same day that the taskforce arrived in New Britain, and consisted of two battalions: one of 1,000 men, and the other with 500 serving and former seamen. On 19 August, the ANMEF departed Sydney for training in Townsville before the rendezvous with other RAN vessels in Port Moresby.[11] On 29 August, four cruisers and HMAS Australia assisted the Samoa Expeditionary Force in landing at Apia, and committing a bloodless takeover of German Samoa. Additionally, the RAN captured German merchant vessels, disrupting German merchant shipping in the Pacific. On 7 September, the ANMEF, now including HMAS Australia, three destroyers, and two each of cruisers and submarines, departed for Rabaul.

A few days later, on 9 September, HMAS Melbourne landed a party to destroy the island's wireless station, though the German administration promptly surrendered. Between 11-12 September, landings were put ashore at Kabakaul, Rabaul and Herbertshohe; it was during this period that the first Australian casualties and deaths of the war occurred. On 14 September, HMAS Encounter barraged an enemy position at Toma with shells; it was the first time the RAN had fired upon an enemy and had shelled an inland location. On 17 September, German New Guinea surrendered to the encroaching ANMEF, with the overall campaign a success and exceeded the objectives set by the War Office. However, the RAN submarine HMAS AE1 became the first ever vessel of the new navy to be sunk.[11] The Australian Squadron was placed under control of the British Admiralty,[12] and was moreover tasked with protecting Australian shipping.[11]

On 1 November, the RAN escorted the first Australian Imperial Force convoy from Albany, WA and set for the Khedivate of Egypt, which was soon to become the Sultanate of Egypt. On 9 November, HMAS Sydney began hunting for SMS Emden, a troublesome German coastal raider, which Sydney later destroyed. Following the almost complete destruction of the East Asia Squadron in the Battle of the Falklands by the Royal Navy, the RAN became able to be reassigned to other naval theatres of the war.[11]

Atlantic and Mediterranean

On 28 February 1915, the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT) was formed with members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve who could not find billets in the RAN.[13] Following the entrance of the Ottoman Empire in alliance with the Central Powers, HMAS AE2 was committed to the initial naval operation of the Gallipoli campaign. After the failure of the naval strategy, an amphibious assault was planned to enable the Allies' warships to pass through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople. The RANBT was sent ashore, along with the invasion, for engineering duties.[14]

Later in the war, most of the RAN's major ships operated as part of Royal Navy forces in the Mediterranean and North Seas, and then later in the Adriatic, and then the Black Sea following the surrender of the Ottoman Empire.[9]

Interwar years

In 1919, the RAN received a force of six destroyers, three sloops and six submarines from the Royal Navy,[15] but throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, the RAN was drastically reduced in size due to a variety of factors including political apathy and economic hardship as a result of the Great Depression.[16] In this time the focus of Australia's naval policy shifted from defence against invasion to trade protection,[17] and several fleet units were sunk as targets or scrapped. By 1923, the size of the navy had fallen to eight vessels,[16] and by the end of the decade it had fallen further to five, with just 3,500 personnel.[17] In the late 1930s, as international tensions increased, the RAN was modernised and expanded, with the service receiving primacy of funding over the Army and Air Force during this time as Australia began to prepare for war.[17]

World War II

Early in the Second World War, RAN ships again operated as part of Royal Navy formations, many serving with distinction in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and off the West African coast.[18] Following the outbreak of the Pacific War and the virtual destruction of Allied naval forces in Southeast Asia, the RAN operated more independently, defending against Axis naval activity in Australian waters, or participating in United States Navy offensives. As the navy took on an even greater role, it was expanded significantly and at its height the RAN was the fourth-largest navy in the world, with 39,650 personnel operating 337 warships.[17] A total of 34 vessels were lost during the war, including three cruisers and four destroyers.[19]

Post war to present

After the Second World War, the size of the RAN was again reduced, but it gained new capabilities with the acquisition of two aircraft carriers, Sydney and Melbourne.[20] The RAN saw action in many Cold War–era conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region and operated alongside the Royal Navy and United States Navy off Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam.[21] Since the end of the Cold War, the RAN has been part of Coalition forces in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, operating in support of Operation Slipper and undertaking counter piracy operations. It was also deployed in support of Australian peacekeeping operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.[22]

The high demand for personnel in the Second World War led to the establishment of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) branch in 1942, where over 3,000 women served in shore-based positions. The WRANS was disbanded in 1947, but then re-established in 1951 during the Cold War. It was given permanent status in 1959, and the RAN was the final branch to integrate women in the Australian military in 1985.[23]

Structure

Command structure

The strategic command structure of the RAN was overhauled during the New Generation Navy changes.[24] The RAN is commanded through Naval Headquarters (NHQ) in Canberra.[25] The professional head is the Chief of Navy (CN), who holds the rank of vice admiral.[26] NHQ is responsible for implementing policy decisions handed down from the Department of Defence and for overseeing tactical and operational issues that are the purview of the subordinate commands.[27]

Beneath NHQ are two subordinate commands:

Fleet Command was previously made up of seven Force Element Groups, but after the New Generation Navy changes, this was restructured into four Force Commands:[30]

Fleet

The Royal Australian Navy consists of nearly 50 commissioned vessels and over 16,000 personnel. [32] Ships commissioned into the RAN are given the prefix HMAS (His/Her Majesty's Australian Ship).[33]

The RAN has two primary bases for its fleet: the first, Fleet Base East, is located at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney and the second, Fleet Base West, is located at HMAS Stirling, near Perth.[34][35] In addition, three other bases are home to the majority of the RAN's minor war vessels: HMAS Cairns, in Cairns, HMAS Coonawarra, in Darwin, and HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney.[36][37][38]

Clearance Diving Branch

Clearance Divers during a ship boarding exercise in 2006 as a part of RIMPAC exercises.
Clearance Divers during a ship boarding exercise in 2006 as a part of RIMPAC exercises.

Main article: Clearance Diving Branch (RAN)

The Clearance Diving Branch is composed of two Clearance Diving Teams (CDT) that serve as parent units for naval clearance divers:

When clearance divers are sent into combat, Clearance Diving Team Three (AUSCDT THREE) is formed.

The CDTs have two primary roles:

Personnel

A female RAN sailor in 2016. Women serve in the RAN in combat roles and at sea.
A female RAN sailor in 2016. Women serve in the RAN in combat roles and at sea.

As of June 2021, the RAN has 15,285 permanent full-time personnel, 161 gap year personnel, and 3,932 reserve personnel.[39] The permanent full-time trained force consisted of 2,914 commissioned officers, and 10,056 enlisted personnel.[39] In June 2021, male personnel made up 73% of the permanent full-time force, while female personnel made up 23%. The RAN has the second-highest percentage of women in the permanent forces, compared to the RAAF's 25.5% and the Army's 15.1%.[40]

The following are some of the current senior Royal Australian Navy officers:

Ranks and uniforms

Royal Australian Navy sailors in 2010
Royal Australian Navy sailors in 2010

See also: Australian Defence Force ranks

The uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy are very similar in cut, colour and insignia to their British Royal Navy forerunners. However, beginning with the Second World War, all RAN personnel began wearing shoulder flashes reading Australia, a practice continuing today. These are cloth arcs at shoulder height on uniforms, metallic gold on officers' shoulder boards, and embroidered on shoulder slip-ons.

Commissioned officers

Commissioned officers of the Australian Navy have pay grades ranging from S-1 to O-11. The only O-11 position in the navy is honorary and has only ever been held by royalty, most recently being held by The Duke of Edinburgh.[citation needed] The highest position occupied in the current Royal Australian Navy structure is O-9, a vice admiral who serves as the Chief of the Navy. O-8 (rear admiral) to O-11 (admiral of the fleet) are referred to as flag officers, O-5 (commander) and above are referred to as senior officers, while S-1 (midshipman) to O-4 (lieutenant commander) are referred to as junior officers. All officers of the navy receive a commission from His Majesty King Charles III, King of Australia. The commissioning scroll issued in recognition of the commission is signed by the Governor General of Australia as Commander-in-Chief and the serving Minister for Defence.[citation needed]

Naval officers are trained at the Royal Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell) in Jervis Bay and the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.[42]

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6
Australia Flag Officer rank insignia
Royal Australian Navy OF-10.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-10.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-9.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-9.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-8.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-8.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-7.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-7.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-6.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-6.svg
Rank title: Admiral of the Fleet Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore
Abbreviation: AF ADML VADM RADM CDRE
NATO Code OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D)
Officer rank:
Royal Australian Navy OF-5.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-5.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-4.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-4.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-3.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-3.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-2.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-2.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF-1.svg
Royal Australian Navy (sleeves) OF-1.svg
Royal Australian Navy OF (D).svg
Rank title Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant/Acting Sub Lieutenant Midshipman
Abbreviation CAPT CMDR LCDR LEUT SBLT/ASLT MIDN

Other ranks

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Australia Other Ranks Insignia
Royal Australian Navy OR-9b.svg
Royal Australian Navy OR-9a.svg
Royal Australian Navy OR-8.svg
Petty Officer
Leading Seaman
Able Seaman
Seaman
No insignia
Rank Title: Warrant Officer of the Navy Warrant Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer Leading Seaman Able Seaman Seaman Recruit
Abbreviation: WO-N WO CPO PO LS AB SMN RCT

Special ranks

Royal Australian Navy sailors from HMAS Sydney during Operation Northern Trident 2009
Royal Australian Navy sailors from HMAS Sydney during Operation Northern Trident 2009

Royal Australian Navy Other Ranks wear "right arm rates" insignia, called "Category Insignia" to indicate speciality training qualifications.[43][better source needed] The use pattern mirrors that of the Royal Navy, and has since formation.[citation needed] Stars or a Crown are added to these to indicate higher qualifications.[citation needed]

Special insignia

The Warrant Officer of the Navy (WO-N) is an appointment held by the most senior sailor in the RAN, and holds the rank of warrant officer (WO). However, the WO-N does not wear the WO rank insignia; instead, they wear the special insignia of the appointment.[44] The WO-N appointment has similar equivalent appointments in the other services, each holding the rank of warrant officer, each being the most senior sailor/soldier/airman in that service, and each wearing their own special insignia rather than their rank insignia. The Australian Army equivalent is the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A)[45] and the Royal Australian Air Force equivalent is the Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF).[46]

Religious and Spiritual Officers

RAN Chaplain and MSWO  Shoulder rank slide (pre-January 2021).
RAN Chaplain and MSWO Shoulder rank slide (pre-January 2021).

Chaplains in the Royal Australian Navy are commissioned officers who complete the same training as other officers in the RAN at the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell. From July 2020, Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers (MSWOs) were introduced to the Navy Chaplaincy Branch, designed to give Navy people and their families with professional, non-religious pastoral care and spiritual support.[47]

RAN regulations group RAN Chaplains and MSWOs with commanders for purposes of protocol such as marks of respect (saluting); however, both workforces have no other rank other than the notional rank of "Chaplain" or "MSWO" respectively. From January 2021, MSWOs and all chaplains will wear the branch’s new non-faith-specific rank insignia of a fouled anchor overlaying a compass rose, which represents a united team front, encompassing all faiths and purpose.[48] Senior Chaplains and MSWOs are grouped with captains, and Principal Chaplains and MSWOs are grouped with commodores, but their rank slide remains the same. Principal Chaplains and MSWOs, however, have gold braid on the peak of their white service cap.[citation needed]

Uniforms

Main article: Uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy


Ships and equipment

Current ships

Further information: Current Royal Australian Navy ships

The RAN currently operates 43 commissioned vessels, made up of nine ship classes and three individual ships, plus four non-commissioned vessels. In addition, DMS Maritime operates a large number of civilian-crewed vessels under contract to the Australian Defence Force.

Image Class/name Type Number Entered service Details
HMAS Collins, Collins class
Collins class Submarine 6 2000 Anti-shipping, intelligence collection. Diesel-electric powered.
HMAS Canberra, Canberra class
Canberra class Landing helicopter dock 2 2014 Amphibious warfare ships with aircraft carrier capacity.
HMAS Hobart December 2017.jpg
Hobart class Destroyer 3 2017 Air warfare destroyer.[49]
HMAS Perth, Anzac class
Anzac class Frigate 8 1996 Anti-submarine and anti-aircraft frigate with one helicopter. Two more were built for the Royal New Zealand Navy.
HMAS Broome, Armidale class
Armidale class Patrol boat 10 2005 Coastal defence, maritime border, and fishery protection.
HMAS Yarra, Huon class
Huon class Minehunter 4 (2) 1997 Minehunting. Four active, two laid up.
HMAS Leeuwin, Leeuwin class
Leeuwin class Survey ship 2 2000 Hydrographic survey
HMAS Choules FBE 2014
HMAS Choules
(Bay class)
Landing ship dock 1 2011 Heavy sealift and transport
HMAS Stalwart
Supply class Replenishment oiler 2 2021 Replenishment at sea and afloat support.
Non-commissioned vessels
An as yet unnamed Cape-class patrol boat at Austal shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia
Cape class Patrol boat 3 2017 Maritime border, and fishery protection augmenting the Armidale class. five more ordered.[50]
STS Young Endeavour
STS Young Endeavour Tall ship 1 1988 Sail training ship

Aviation

Main article: Fleet Air Arm (RAN)

Image Squadron Equipment Number Role Details
N48-005 at the 2016 ADFA Open Day.jpg
816 Squadron MH-60R 8 Anti-submarine warfare helicopter
Anti-surface warfare
Search and rescue
The RAN operates 23 MH-60Rs, 8 of which are usually deployed at sea at anyone time with the rest in maintenance and training.[51][52][53] In May 2022, the Australian government announced that it would purchase 12 MH-60Rs to replace the MRH-90 fleet and a 13th to replace a MH-60R that was ditched in the Philippine Sea in October 2021.[54][55][53] Royal Australian navy ordered 12 more MH-60R Romeo helicopters on 20th September 2022.[56]
Australian MRH-90 lands on USS Green Bay (LPD-20) in July 2015.JPG
808 Squadron MRH-90 6 Transport and resupply In May 2022, the Australian government announced that the MRH-90s would be replaced by MH-60R Seahawks.[54][57]
Training Squadrons
N48-005 at the 2016 ADFA Open Day.jpg
725 Squadron MH-60R 15 Conversion training and maintenance
Joint Helicopter Aircrew Training School (N52-014) Airbus Helicopter EC135T2+ at Wagga Wagga Airport.jpg
723 Squadron EC-135T2+ 15 Helicopter aircrew training
Experimental Squadron
US Navy 1005268-N-RC844-159 A Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).jpg
822X Squadron ScanEagle Unmanned aerial vehicles trials
Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100.jpg
S-100 Camcopter

Small arms

RAN personnel utilise the following small arms:[58]

Future

Main article: Future of the Royal Australian Navy

There are currently several major projects underway that will see upgrades to RAN capabilities:

On 15 September 2021, the Australian Government announced their participation in the AUKUS[69] agreement during a joint press conference[70] with US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Under the new agreement, the Royal Australian Navy will, for the first time, be able to build nuclear submarines with the assistance of the United States and the United Kingdom[71][72] The Morrison Government later also announced in March 2022 that an additional submarine base on the East Coast would be constructed in either: Port Kembla, Newcastle or Brisbane to support the incoming fleet.[73]

Current operations

Main article: Current Australian Defence Force deployments

The RAN currently has forces deployed on three major operations:[74]

See also

References

Notes

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