1900-1913 > Federation, RAN and pre-WW1
The Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, announced that Australia would purchase 9 C-class submarines, and 6 torpedo boat destroyers, over three years, to be built, manned and maintained by Australia.
VADM Sir Richard Poore, Bt, KCB, CVO, was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Australia Station. His flagship was HMS POWERFUL.
The American ‘Great White Fleet’, 16 warships plus auxiliaries, under the command of ADML Charles Sperry, USN, arrived in Sydney, and remained there until 27 August, when they sailed for Melbourne. The Prime Minister Alfred Deakin deliberately breached protocol by bypassing British authorities and despatching a timely invitation direct to Washington. It worked as intended, a direct challenge to Britain that there were alternatives to Australia in forming it’s own navy, outside a British alliance.
The ‘Great White Fleet’ arrived in Melbourne, and remained there until 5 September, when it sailed for Albany, WA.
The ‘Great White Fleet’ arrived in Albany, WA, and remained until 18 September. Albany was an important coaling stop for the Fleet.
15 sailors from HMS ENCOUNTER, (cruiser), were drowned when the ship’s pinnace was rammed by SS DUNSMORE off Garden Island, Sydney. The men were on their way ashore to conduct a range shoot at Malabar when the incident occurred. All those killed were later buried in a communal grave in the Naval Section of Rookwood Cemetry.
The Fisher Government in Australia adopted the 24 destroyer plan. Without consulting British Admiralty, the Australian Government ordered three River class torpedo boat destroyers, later named HMAS PARRAMATTA, YARRA, and WARREGO, to be built forwith in the United Kingdom.
Extract from Instructions to the Professional Officers of His Majesty’s Dockyards: “When gangs or companies are working by candlelight, such candles only as are necessary are to be demanded, and when so working on board a ship, the Officer in charge of the work is to take care that no candle is used without a candlestick of the established Admiralty pattern, with a distinguishing number stamped thereon, so that the person using it may be traced”.
British Admiralty’s hard-nosed opposition to the idea of Dominion navies suddenly changed. Admiralty now expressed the opinion that each Dominion should have ‘a distinct fleet unit’ comprising a battle-cruiser, three light cruisers, six destroyers, and three submarines, plus auxiliaries to manned by Australians. This gave support for Australian moves to create an Australian Navy blue-water force.
The Minister for Defence announced the third torpedo boat destroyer would be built in NSW, but Victoria would receive a fair share of the future work authorised by the Federal Government.
HMAS PARRAMATTA, (torpedo boat destroyer), was the first warship ordered by the Government to be built for the Australian Navy since Federation in 1901. It was launched at Govan, Scotland, by Mrs. Asquith, wife of the British Prime Minister.
Hospital charges for naval patients in civil hospitals were:- Seamen; 3 shillings per day. Officers; 12 shillings per day. Mental patients at Callan Park and Gladesville Asylums; 3 shillings per day for all ranks.The principal hospital for naval patients in Sydney was St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst.
The second Australian torpedo boat destroyer, HMAS YARRA, was launched at Dumbarton, Scotland.
The Reserve Decoration, RD, was gazetted.
The Australian Government authorised the building of two light cruisers for the Australian Navy. The cruisers were named HMAS SYDNEY and HMAS MELBOURNE.
The River class destroyer HMAS YARRA was commissioned, Commanding Officer LEUT Thomas. W. Biddlecombe, CNF, (ex RNR), from South Australia. HMAS YARRA was laid down in Denny & Co, Dumbarton, Scotland, and Mrs N. J. Moore, (Wife of Western Australia’s Premier), performed the launching ceremony on 9 April 1910.
The River class destroyer HMAS PARRAMATTA, was commissioned Commanding Officer LEUT Henry J Feakes, CNF, (ex RNR), a Victorian. PARRAMATTA was laid down in Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Govan, Scotland, and launched on 9 February 1910. Mrs Asquith, (Wife of the British Prime Minister), performed the launching ceremony.
CAPT Frederick Tickell CMG RN(tempy), (CNF) was on board HMAS Parramatta as flag ship for his role as Senior Officer (unoficial Commodore) of the two ship flotilla as it sailed to Australia. Now the three officers commanding the two ships were, for this journey of delivery, Royal Navy. It appears that the ships were to remain Admiralty property, possibly for Maritime Law reasons, until formerly handed over to the Australian Government.
HMAS PARRAMATTA and HMAS YARRA, (River class destroyers), having been commissioned into the Australian Navy’s Commonwealth Naval Forces left Portsmouth, England, for Australia, escorted by HMS GIBRALTAR
Commonwealth ships HMAS PARRAMATTA and HMAS YARRA, (torpedo boat destroyers), the first warships built for the Australian navy since Federation, arrived in Port Phillip, Melbourne, Victoria, the Federal Capital of Australia.
VADM Sir George F. King-Hall, KCB, CVO, was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Australia Station. His flagships were HM Ships POWERFUL, DRAKE, and CAMBRIAN.
HMAS WARREGO’s re-launching ceremony was conducted by Mrs. G. F. Pearce, wife of the Minister for Defence at Cockatoo Island. The ship built at Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering, Govan, Scotland had been broken down into it’s individual parts and shipped to Australia for re-assembly at Cockatoo Island. It was the first destroyer ‘built’ in Australia and launched at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. This provided Australian dockyard workers with ship construction experience for they were to build three more River class destroyers, HMAS SWAN, HMAS TORRENS, and HMAS HUON.
HRH King George V granted the title of “Royal” for the Royal Australian Navy and it’s Permanent Commonwealth Naval Forces and the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.
RADM Sir William Rooke Creswell CNF, recently promoted to Flag Rank on 1st March 1911, was First Naval Member of the Naval Board of the now redesignated RAN. He was Australia’s first Admiral (although ex RN) to occupy the position.
The Imperial Conference defined: ‘The Australia Station includes waters between 95° E and 160° E as far south as the Antarctic Circle: but the northern boundary is drawn so as to exclude the Cocos Group and all Dutch islands, while including the whole coast of British Papua; and the eastern boundary is extended to include Norfolk Island’.
The existence of the new Australian Navy was formally advised when the Naval Board issued an historic order promulgating the designation ‘Royal Australian Navy’. The order also directed that the permanent naval forces of the Commonwealth and for the ships of the Navy to be designated ‘His Majesty’s Australian Ships’, and that all ships and vessels of the Royal Australian Navy were to fly at the stern the White Ensign as the symbol of authority of the Crown, and at the jack staff, the flag of Australia.
HMAS AUSTRALIA, (battle-cruiser), was launched at Clydebank, Scotland.
The site of the RAN College was selected by Parliament. After consideration of several areas, the site at Captains Point, Jervis Bay, NSW, was selected. Construction of the College began the following year, but an interim College was opened at Osborne House, Geelong, VIC, where the first class of Cadet Midshipman commenced their training in 1913. The College transferred to the Jervis Bay site in 1915.
The Australian Blue Ensign was hoisted in HMA Ships PARRAMATTA and YARRA, (torpedo boat destroyers), at Port Phillip, VIC to accompany the joint use of the Royal Navy’s White Ensign by Royal Australian Navy ships. The RN White Ensign replaced Australia’s national flag flown since 1901 as the Naval Ensign. With this joint flying of the White Ensign, Australia, the independent self-governing Dominion, within the British Empire, allowed itself to become more closely aligned to British Admiralty. The Admiralty, slow to accept the independence of it’s former colonies, ensured that, following Australia’s RADM Creswell, influence would be maintained by only by RN Admirals being appointed as Australia’s First Naval Member on the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board (ACNB). This was not a legal requirement of the Australian Constitution but had been diplomatically managed. This “agreed” position lasted until RADM Sir John Collins KBE RAN was appointed First Naval Member of ACNB in 1947. Thereafter only Australian Admirals served as First Naval Member on the ACNB.
SBLT A. M. Longmore, RN, an Australian serving in the RN, successfully landed a Short S27 aircraft fitted with airbags on the Medway River, England.
The Australian Government decided to establish the Royal Australian Naval College at Captains Point, Jervis Bay.
The Commonwealth Naval Forces commenced the building of a naval training depot at Hanns Inlet, VIC. It was commissioned as Flinders Naval Depot in September 1920.
The boys training ship HMAS TINGIRA, (CMDR C la P. Lewin, RN), was commissioned. TINGIRA was laid down as a clipper ship SOBROAN, in Alexanda Hall & Co, Aberdeen, Scotland, and launched in 1866. In 1891 she was purchased by the NSW Government, and became the Nautical School Ship SOBROAN, and was moored off Balmain, Sydney, where she operated as a home and school for delinquent boys and orphans. She operated as the boys training ship for the RAN for the next 15 years, and produced over 3,000 ‘graduates’ for the fleet. The name is aboriginal for ‘open sea’.
LEUT A. Longmore, (an Australian serving with the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps), and LEUT Samson, were the first pilots to fly aircraft at a Spithead Review. Longmore flew a monoplane, and Samson a ‘hydro-aeroplane’.
HMAS MELBOURNE, (cruiser), was launched at Cammel Lairds Shipyard in England.
The River class destroyer HMAS WARREGO, was commissioned at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney, and CMDR G. F. Hyde, RN, was appointed as Commanding Officer.
HMS CHALLENGER, (cruiser), was transferred to the RAN.
The Town class light cruiser HMS ENCOUNTER, (CAPT B. M. Chambers, RN), was commissioned. ENCOUNTER was laid down in Devonport Dockyard on 28 January 1901, launched on 18 June 1902, and completed in December 1905. ENCOUNTER sailed in 1905 for service in the RN Australia Squadron, then was presented to the RAN for use as a seagoing training ship, pending completion of HMAS BRISBANE.
HMAS SYDNEY, (cruiser), was launched at London & Glasgow Yard, UK.
The Town class light cruiser, HMAS MELBOURNE, (CAPT M. L’Estrange Silver, RN), was commissioned. Mrs F. F. Braund, (Daughter of Mr R. Barr-Smith), performed the commissioning ceremony. MELBOURNE was laid down in Cammell-Laird Yard, UK, and launched on 30 May 1912.
The first entry of cadets to the Royal Australian Naval College arrived at Geelong. The cadets were:-O. E. Albert, N. K. Calder, J. A. Collins, A. D. Conder, E. S. Cunningham, J. C. D. Esdaile, H. B. Farncomb, E. B. Howells, H. A. Mackenzie, J. B. Newman, E. S. Nurse, W. L. Reilly, C. A. R. Sadlier, H. A. Showers, H. J. H. Thompson, H. B, Vallentine, L. L. Watkins, A. J. B. Watts. Collins, Farncomb, and Showers, reached the rank of Admiral.
Training of the first entrants to the Royal Australian Naval College commenced at Osborne House, Geelong, VIC, under CAPT B. M. Chambers, RN.
HMS PIONEER, (3rd class cruiser), was presented to the Commonwealth of Australia as a gift from the British Admiralty.
The Minister for the Navy approved the formation of the Naval Dockyard Police. The initial strength was one Chief Warrant Officer, one Sergeant, nine Senior Constables, and 29 Constables.