Australia Station

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Australia Station
Australia Station Squadron (AWM 304426).jpg
Royal Navy squadron on the Australia Station moored in Sydney in 1880
Active Created in 1859
Country  United Kingdom
Later,  Australia
Branch  Royal Navy
Later,  Royal Australian Navy

The Australia Station was the British, and later Australian, naval command responsible for the waters around the Australian continent.[1] Australia Station was under the command of the Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station, whose rank varied over time.

History[edit]

In the years following the establishment of the British colony of New South Wales in 1788, Royal Navy ships stationed in Australian waters formed part of the East Indies Squadron and came under the command of the East Indies Station. From the 1820s, a ship was sent annually to New South Wales, and occasionally to New Zealand.[2]

In 1848, an Australian Division of the East Indies Station was established,[3] and in 1859 the British Admiralty established an independent command, the Australia Station, under the command of a Commodore who was assigned as Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station.[1] The Australian Squadron was created to which British naval ships serving on the Australia Station were assigned.[1][4] The changes were partially in recognition of the fact that a large part of the East Indies Station had been detached to Australian waters, and also reflecting growing concern for the strategic situation in the western Pacific in general, and in Tahiti and New Zealand in particular.[1] In 1884, the commander of the Australia Station was upgraded to the rank of Rear Admiral.[1]

At its establishment, the Australia Station encompassed Australia and New Zealand, with its eastern boundary including Samoa and Tonga, its western edge in the Indian Ocean, south of India and its southern edge defined by the Antarctic Circle. The boundaries were modified in 1864, 1872 and 1893.[5] At its largest, the Australia Station reached from the Equator to the Antarctic in its greatest north-south axis, and covered 14 of the Southern Hemisphere in its extreme east-west dimension, including Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Melanesia and Polynesia.[6]

On 1 January 1901, Australia became a federation of six States, as the Commonwealth of Australia, which took over the defence forces from all the States. In March 1901, the Commonwealth took over the colonial navies to form the Commonwealth Naval Forces. The Australian and New Zealand governments agreed with the Imperial government to help fund the Royal Navy's Australian Squadron, while the Admiralty committed itself to maintain the Squadron at a constant strength.[4] In 1902, the commander of the Australia Station was upgraded to the rank of Vice Admiral. The boundaries were again modified in 1908. On 10 July 1911, King George V granted the title of "Royal Australian Navy" to the CNF.[7]

The Australian Squadron was disbanded in 1911 and the Australia Station passed to the Commonwealth Naval Forces. The Station was reduced to cover Australia and its island dependencies to the north and east, excluding New Zealand and its surrounds, which became part of the China Station and called the New Zealand Naval Forces.[1] In 1913, the Royal Australian Navy came under Australian command, and responsibility for the reduced Australia Station passed to the new RAN.[1] The Royal Navy's Australia Station ceased in 1913 and responsibility handed over to the Royal Australian Navy and its Sydney based depots, dockyards and structures were gifted to the Commonwealth of Australia. The Royal Navy continued to support the RAN and provided additional blue-water defence capability in the Pacific up to the early years of World War II.

In 1921, a separate New Zealand Station was established, and the New Zealand Naval Forces renamed the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.[8] In 1958, the Australia Station was redrawn again, now to include Papua New Guinea.[1]

Commanders-in-Chief, Australia Station[edit]

The following is a list of the Royal Navy officers who occupied the post of Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station:

Rank Name Term began Term ended
Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station
Commodore William Loring 26 March 1859 10 March 1860
Commodore Beauchamp Seymour 10 March 1860 21 July 1862
Commodore William Burnett 21 July 1862 7 February 1863
Commodore William Wiseman 20 April 1863 23 May 1866
Commodore Rochfort Maguire 23 May 1866 28 May 1867
Commodore Rowley Lambert 28 May 1867 8 April 1870
Commodore Frederick Stirling 8 April 1870 22 May 1873
Commodore James Goodenough 22 May 1873 20 August 1875
Commodore Anthony Hoskins 7 September 1875 12 September 1878
Commodore John Wilson 12 September 1878 21 January 1882
Commodore James Erskine 21 January 1882 12 November 1884
Rear Admiral George Tryon 12 November 1884 1 February 1887
Rear Admiral Henry Fairfax 1 February 1887 10 September 1889
Rear Admiral Lord Charles Montagu Douglas Scott 10 September 1889 12 September 1892
Rear Admiral Nathaniel Bowden-Smith 12 September 1892 1 November 1894
Rear Admiral Cyprian Bridge 1 November 1894 1 November 1897
Rear Admiral Hugo Pearson 1 November 1898 1 October 1900
Rear Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont 1 October 1900 10 November 1902
Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Fanshawe 10 November 1902 10 September 1905
Vice Admiral Sir Wilmot Fawkes 10 September 1905 31 December 1907
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Poore 31 December 1907 31 December 1910
Vice Admiral Sir George King-Hall 31 December 1910 23 June 1913

List of ships assigned to the Station[edit]

This is a list of ships that were assigned to the station between 1859 until 1913. The Australian Squadron was replaced by the Royal Australian Navy Fleet when it sailed into Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913.[9]


Ship Date joined Date left Notes
Iris 25 March 1859 1861 Flagship between 25 March 1859 until 10 March 1860. Undertook operations during First Taranaki War in New Zealand.
Niger 25 March 1859 1860 Undertook operations during First Taranaki War.
Pelorus May 1859 July 1862 Flagship between 10 March 1859 until July 1862. Undertook operations during First Taranaki War.
Fawn 30 October 1859 11 April 1863
Bramble 1859 May 1859 Tender to Squadron.
Cordelia (1856) 1859 December 1860 Undertook operations during First Taranaki War.
Elk 1859 1860 Undertook operations during First Taranaki War.
Harrier (1854) December 1860 September 1864 Participated in rescue operation when HMS Orpheus was wrecked in Manukau Harbour, New Zealand and was also grounded but was refloated. Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign in New Zealand.
Miranda December 1860 September 1864 Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign in New Zealand.
Pioneer (1856) March 1862 1863
Orpheus July 1862 7 February 1863 Flagship between July 1862 until 7 February 1863. Was wrecked in Manukau Harbour with the loss of 189 seaman including Commander-in-chief, Australia Station Commodore William Farquharson Burnett. 70 crewman survived.
Beatrice September 1862 1880 Jointly owned by Royal Navy and Colony of South Australia until purchased outright by South Australia in 1880. Conducted survey operations around Northern Australia.
Eclipse November 1862 1866 Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign.
Curacoa (1854) 20 April 1863 1866 Flagship from 20 April 1863 until May 1866. Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign.
Hecate June 1863 1864 Conducted survey operations of Botany Bay, Moreton Bay and Brisbane River.
Esk July 1863 2 July 1867 Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign.
Falcon December 1863 November 1867 Undertook operations during Invasion of Waikato and also the Tauranga Campaign.
Salamander February 1864 4 July 1867 Conducted survey operations along Great Barrier Reef and between Wilsons Promontory and Port Phillip Bay.
Brisk October 1864 1868 Provided escort for operations during Second Taranaki War, New Zealand.
Challenger (1858) May 1866 1870 Flagship between May 1866 and 3 September 1870. Conducted a punitive operation in 1866 against some Fijian natives.
Virago 30 November 1866 28 June 1871 Conducted survey operations along Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Norfolk Island and New Zealand.
Charybdis March 1867 November 1868
Rosario November 1867 1875 Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific.
Blanche January 1868 1875 Undertook a punitive operation in 1869 against some Solomon Islands natives. Conducted survey operations of Rabaul Harbour.
Clio (1858) 17 April 1870 16 October 1873 Flagship between 3 September 1870 and 17 September 1873. Ran into a reef and holed in Bligh Sound, New Zealand in 1871 and repaired.
Basilisk March 1871 1874 Undertook survey operations around Eastern New Guinea, under the command of Captain John Moresby. Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific.
Cossack September 1871 October 1873
Dido 1871 1875 Ran aground at Hobart, Tasmania in 1875 but was refloated.
Pearl 22 May 1873 1875 Flagship from 17 September 1873 until 7 September 1875. Commander-in-chief Commodore James Graham Goodenough and two sailors died from poisonous arrows fired by natives from Santa Cruz Islands in 1875.
Conflict August 1873 1882 Built by John Cuthbert, Sydney. Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific. In 1879 undertook punitive operation in against some Soloman Islands natives.
Alacrity 1873 1882 Built in Sydney as Ethel. Undertook survey operations around Fiji and Soloman Islands. Sold to Colony of New South Wales and served as a powder hulk.
Beagle 1873 March 1883 Built by John Cuthbert, Darling Harbour, Sydney. Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific. In 1879 undertook punitive operation against some Solomon Islands natives.
Renard 1873 March 1883 Built by John Cuthbert, Sydney. Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific. Undertook survey operations around Fiji and Russell Islands.
Sandfly 1873 1883 Built by John Cuthbert, Sydney. Undertook anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific. Undertook survey operations around Soloman Islands and New Guinea. Commanding officer, Lieutenant Bower, and three sailors were killed by natives on Mandolina Island, near Guadacanal.
Barracouta August 1874 July 1866 Participated in Samoan Operations in 1866.
Sappho December 1874 August 1878
Nymphe March 1875 November 1878
Sapphire March 1875 July 1879
Wolverine 7 September 1875 January 1882 Flagship from 7 September 1875 until 21 January 1882. Sold to Colony of New South Wales and served as a training ship.
Emerald September 1878 October 1881 Took punitive action against natives who killed commander of HMS Sandfly.
Cormorant 1878 1882 Took punitive action against natives who killed commander of HMS Sandfly.
Danae 1878 August 1880
Miranda September 1880 May 1886
Alert 1880 1882
Meda 1880 1886 Undertook survey work along North West Australia. She was sold in 1887 to the Colony of Western Australia.
Diamond October 1881 August 1888
Espiegle November 1881 March 1885
Nelson 21 January 1882 3 September 1888 Flagship from 21 January 1882 until 1888.
Lark 1882 1886
Raven 25 April 1883 October 1890
Harrier (1881) September 1883 1888
Undine September 1883 1888
Swinger 2 October 1883 August 1891
Dart 1883 1904
Paluma 1884 1895 Built for Colony of Queensland, she was commissioned in Royal Navy on loan. She was returned to Queenland in 1895 and renamed HMQS Paluma.
Myrmidon 14 March 1885 1888 Undertook surveys along the North of Australia, Darwin and Bass Strait.
Opal March 1885 11 May 1890
Rapid July 1886 1 December 1897
Flying Fish 1886 1866
Calliope September 1887 October 1889 Participated in the 1889 Samoan conflict.
Egeria 1887 1894 She undertook survey work around Western Pacific islands and Hobart.
Royalist May 1888 June 1899 Sent to the Gilbert Islands and on 27 May 1892 the islands were proclaimed to be a British protectorate.[10] Participated in the 1899 Samoan civil war.
Orlando 1 September 1888 1898 Flagship from 1 September 1888 until November 1897.
Lizard January 1889 1904 Participated during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
Rambler October 1889 1890 She undertook survey work along North Western coast of Australia.
Penguin 14 January 1890 1888 She undertook survey work around Western Pacific islands, New Zealand and Great Barrier Reef. She was transferred for harbour service at Sydney before being commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Penguin a depot ship.
Mildura 18 March 1890 1905 Part of the auxiliary squadron.
Goldfinch March 1890 August 1899
Cordelia (1881) 1890 1891 During practice firing one of her guns burst killing five sailors on 28 June 1891.
Curacoa (1878) 1890 December 1894 Sent to the Ellice Islands and between 9 and 16 October 1892 made a formal declaration on each island that it was to be a British protectorate.[11]
Tauranga 27 January 1891 1904 Part of the auxiliary squadron. Participated in the 1899 Samoan civil war.
Ringarooma 3 February 1891 1904 Grounded on a reef at Malekula Island, New Hebrides on 31 August 1894 and was towed off by a French warship. Part of the auxiliary squadron.
Katoomba 24 March 1891 January 1906 Part of the auxiliary squadron.
Wallaroo 31 March 1891 January 1906 Part of the auxiliary squadron. Participated during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. One of her boilers exploded on 7 January 1904 killing 4 sailors.
Boomerang 1891 1904
Karrakatta 1891 1903
Ringdove 1891 February 1901
Pylades November 1894 29 January 1905
Waterwitch 1895 1900
Torch February 1897 1913
Royal Arthur 4 November 1897 1888 Flagship from 4 November 1897 until April 1904.
Mohawk December 1897 1900 Escorted New South Wales Naval Brigade to China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
Porpoise December 1897 June 1901 Participated in the 1899 Samoan civil war.
Archer 1900 December 1901
Phoebe 19 February 1901 23 December 1905
Sparrow February 1901 1904 Later commissioned in New Zealand Marine Department as training ship NZS Amokura in 1905
Psyche 22 September 1903 1913 Was later commissioned in RAN in 1915 as HMAS Psyche.
Mutine December 1903 February 1905
Clio (1903) 19 January 1904 14 April 1905
Cadmus 13 April 1904 May 1905
Euryalus July 1904 1905 Flagship between 26 March 1904 and February 1905.
Challenger (1902) 1904 1912
Powerful February 1905 December 1911 Flagship from 1905–1911.
Pegasus March 1905 March 1913
Pyramus 16 September 1905 1913 She grounded on a reef near Cooktown on 22 June 1907 and was refloated.
Pioneer (1899) September 1905 1 March 1913 Commissioned as HMAS Pioneer in 1913.
Encounter December 1905 21 June 1912 Commissioned as HMAS Encounter on 1 July 1912.
Cambrian 1905 1913 Flagship between January and October 1913, the last flagship of Australia Station
Prometheus 1905 1913
Fantome 1906 1913 Undertook survey work along the North and Eastern coasts of Australia and New Guinea.
Sealark 1910 1913 Undertook survey work in the Torres Strait and Solomon Islands.
Drake 30 November 1911 1 January 1913 Flagship between 1911 and 1 January 1913.

See also[edit]

Vice admiral (Australia)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dennis et. al 2008, p.53.
  2. ^ Nicholls 1988, p. 2.
  3. ^ Graham 1967, p. 459.
  4. ^ a b Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2. OCLC 271822831. 
  5. ^ Dennis et al. 2008, p. 54.
  6. ^ Blunt 2002, p. 16–17.
  7. ^ Stevens, David. "The R.A.N. – A Brief History". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  8. ^ McGibbon 2000, pp. 45–46.
  9. ^ Bastock, pp.23–24.
  10. ^ Resture, Jane. "TUVALU HISTORY – 'The Davis Diaries' (H.M.S. Royalist, 1892 visit to Ellice Islands under Captain Davis)". Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Noatia P. Teo, Hugh Larcy (ed) (1983). "Chapter 17, Colonial Rule". Tuvalu: A History. University of the South Pacific/Government of Tuvalu. pp. 127–139. 

References[edit]

  • Bastock, John (1988), Ships on the Australia Station, Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd; Frenchs Forest, Australia. ISBN 0-86777-348-0
  • Blunt, Adrienne (2002). Key Resources Guide on Australian Maritime Strategy. Canberra: Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library. 
  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (2nd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2. OCLC 271822831. 
  • Graham, Gerald (1967). Great Britain in the Indian Ocean: A study of Maritime Enterprise 1810–1850. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-821353-0. 
  • McGibbon, Ian (2000). The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-558376-0. 
  • Nicholls, Bob (1988). The Colonial Volunteers: The Defence Forces of the Australian Colonies 1836–1901. North Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-302003-8. 

Further reading[edit]