Australia's own fleet
For the security of an island nation, a powerful navy seemed essential.
The Royal Australian Navy was established on 10 July 1911, equipped with
new warships ordered to supplement the small collection of vessels taken
over from the colonial navies. The most powerful ship acquired, the battle-cruiser,
HMAS Australia, became the flagship. It was launched on 25 October
1911 at Clydebank, Scotland, and arrived in Sydney on 4 October 1913.
There was great excitement in Sydney Harbour at the arrival of the flagship
bearing the nation's name, accompanied by the cruisers Melbourne, Sydney, and Encounter and three destroyers. The new fleet
was tiny in world terms, but it marked Australia's first step on the road
to developing an independent naval defence capacity.
Only a flea-bite
From The Bulletin 1 August 1907, pg 1. By permission of National
Library of Australia.
The Indefatigable-class battle cruiser, HMAS Australia, was the
first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy. Launched in 1911, HMAS Australia
arrived in Australia in 1913. Its main armament consisted of eight 12-inch
guns. During the First World War this formidable warship saw service in
the Pacific, where it took part in the capture of the German New Guinea
colonies, and in the North Sea. It was present at the surrender of the
German fleet at Scapa Flow in 1918. In 1924 it was scuttled off Sydney
Heads in accordance with the disarmament provisions of the Washington
Navy Treaty. Photographs, mounted in frames made from the ship's deck,
were sold as souvenirs.
Celebrating Australia's own navy.
The Royal Australian Navy was formally established on 10 July 1911. The
torpedo boat destroyers Yarra and Parramatta were the first
ships specially built for Australia. In 1913, the flagship HMAS Australia
arrived in Sydney Harbour and celebrations were conducted for the assembled
fleet. AWM PROP 02040
Early Royal Australian Navy uniform.
Officers and sailors of the new Australian navy were dressed in the traditional
uniforms of the Royal Navy. This was the standard dress on board the coal-burning
warships of that era. The cap tally ribbon denotes the ship on which the
H. Septimus Power First World War official war artist
Admiral Sir George Patey
oil on canvas
painted in England 1925 ART09097
Commander of the Australian fleet.
In its early years the RAN retained strong links with Britain, served
under the white ensign, and remained dependant on the Royal Navy. A British
admiral, Sir George Patey, commanded the fleet from its establishment
until 1915. On board HMAS Australia he was in charge of naval operations
at Samoa, the capture of German New Guinea and in the pursuit of a German
squadron in the Pacific.