Royal Australian Navy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Commonwealth Naval Forces)
Jump to: navigation, search
Royal Australian Navy
RAN badge.png
Active 1911–present
Country  Australia
Type Navy
Size 14,215 permanent personnel
2,150 Active Reserve personnel
51 commissioned ships
1 non-commissioned ship
Part of Australian Defence Force
Headquarters Russell Offices, Canberra
March "Royal Australian Navy"
Anniversaries 10 July
Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett
Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Michael van Balen
Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer
Naval Ensign (1967–Present) Naval Ensign of Australia.svg
Naval Jack Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Naval Ensign (1911–1967) Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Aircraft flown
Reconnaissance Seahawk
Trainer Bell, Squirrel
Transport MRH 90

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces. Originally intended for local defence, the navy was granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' in 1911, and became increasingly responsible for defence of the region.

Britain's 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. Then, rapid wartime expansion saw the acquisition of large surface vessels and the building of many smaller warships. In the decade following the war, the RAN acquired a small number of aircraft carriers, the last of these paying off in 1982.

Today, the RAN consists of 51 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. The current Chief of Navy is Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.[1]


The Commonwealth Naval Forces were established on 1 March 1901, two months after the federation of Australia. On 10 July 1911, King George V granted the title of "Royal Australian Navy".[2]

During World War I, the RAN was initially responsible for capturing many of Germany's South Pacific colonies and protecting Australian shipping from the German East Asia Squadron. Later in the war, most of the RAN's major ships operated as part of Royal Navy forces in the Mediterranean and North Seas.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, the RAN was drastically reduced in size. As international tensions increased, however, the RAN was modernised and expanded. Early in World War II, RAN ships again operated as part of the Royal Navy, many serving with distinction in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the West African coast, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. Following the outbreak of the Pacific War and the virtual destruction of the Royal Navy force in Asia, the RAN operated more independently, or as part of United States Navy forces. By war's end, the RAN was the fifth-largest navy in the world.

After World War II, the size of the RAN was again reduced, but it gained new capabilities with the delivery of two aircraft carriers. 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. Since the end of the Cold War, the RAN has been part of Coalition forces in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and has become a critical element in Australian operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

RAN today[edit]

Command structure[edit]

The strategic command structure of the RAN was overhauled during the New Generation Navy changes.

The RAN is commanded through Naval Headquarters (NHQ) in Canberra. The professional head is the Chief of Navy (CN), who holds the rank of Vice Admiral. 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.

Beneath NHQ are two subordinate commands:

  • Fleet Command: fleet command is led by Commander Australian Fleet (COMAUSFLT). COMAUSFLT holds the rank of rear admiral; previously, this post was Flag Officer Commanding HM's Australian Fleet (FOCAF), created in 1911,[3] but the title was changed in 1988 to the Maritime Commander Australia. On 1 February 2007, the title changed again, becoming Commander Australian Fleet.[4] The nominated at-sea commander is Commodore Warfare (COMWAR), a one-star deployable task group commander. Fleet command has responsibility to CN for the full command of assigned assets, and to Joint Operations command for the provision of operationally ready forces.
  • Navy Strategic Command: the administrative element overseeing the RAN's training, engineering and logistical support needs. Instituted in 2000, the Systems Commander was appointed at the rank of commodore; in June 2008, the position was upgraded to the rank of rear admiral.

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:[5]


As of January 2013, the RAN fleet consisted of 51 commissioned warships, including frigates, submarines, patrol boats and auxiliary ships. Ships commissioned into the RAN are given the prefix HMAS (His/Her Majesty's Australian Ship).

The RAN has two primary bases for its fleet:

In addition, three other bases are home to the majority of the RAN's minor war vessels:

Current ships[edit]

The RAN currently operates 51 commissioned vessels, made up of eight ship classes, and four individual ships plus two non-commissioned vessels.

Commissioned Vessels
Image Class/Name Type Number Entered service Details
HMAS Collins, first submarine of the Collins class
Collins class Submarine 6 2000 Anti-shipping, intelligence collection. Diesel-electric powered.
HMAS Stuart, of the Anzac class
Anzac class Frigate 8 1996 Anti-submarine and anti-aircraft frigate with 1 S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter. Two more were built for the Royal New Zealand Navy.
HMAS Newcastle of the Adelaide class
Adelaide class Frigate 4 1985 General Purpose guided missile frigate with 2 Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters. Two more ships were decommissioned in 2005 and 2008.
HMAS Broome of the Armidale class
Armidale class Patrol boat 14 2005 Coastal defence, maritime border, and fishery protection
HMAS Yarra of the Huon class
Huon class Minehunter 6 1997 Minehunting
HMAS Labuan of the Balikpapan class
Balikpapan class Landing Craft Heavy 3 1971 Light lift amphibious transport. Two more were transferred to the fledgling Papua New Guinea Defence Force in 1975.
HMAS Leeuwin, lead ship of the Leeuwin class
Leeuwin class Survey ship 2 2000 Hydrographic survey
HMAS Benalla, fourth ship of the Paluma class
Paluma class Survey launch 4 1989 Hydrographic survey
HMAS Tobruk
(Round Table-class landing ship logistics)
HMAS Tobruk
Landing Ship Heavy 1981 Heavy sealift and transport. Modified Round Table class.
HMAS Choules
(Bay class landing ship)
HMAS Choules
Landing Ship Dock 2011 Heavy sealift and transport. Former Royal Fleet Auxiliary Bay class landing ship RFA Largs Bay
HMAS Success
(Durance class tanker)
HMAS Success
Replenishment ship 1986 Replenishment at sea and afloat support. Modified Durance class.
HMAS Sirius
HMAS Sirius Replenishment ship 2006 Replenishment at sea and afloat support. Modified commercial tanker.
Non-Commissioned Vessels
ADV Ocean Shield
ADV Ocean Shield Offshore Support Vessel Non-commissioned 2012 Civilian-crewed humanitarian and disaster relief vessel
STS Young Endeavour
STS Young Endeavour Australian Tall Ship Non-commissioned 1988 Sail training ship


Fleet Air Arm[edit]

Main article: Fleet Air Arm (RAN)

The Fleet Air Arm (previously known as the Australian Navy Aviation Group) provides the RAN's aviation capability. As of 2013, the FAA consists of three active squadrons plus a fourth being activated, operating five helicopter types in the anti-submarine warfare and maritime support roles.[6] The Fleet Air Arm is based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, and operates from the RAN's frigates, large amphibious warfare vessels, and large support ships.

LADS Flight[edit]

In addition to the helicopter squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm, the RAN operates an additional flying unit that comes under the operational responsibility of the Australian Hydrographic Service. The Laser Airborne Depth Sounder Flight contains the sole remaining fixed-wing aircraft operated by the RAN, and is based at HMAS Cairns in Cairns, Queensland.[7]


Clearance Diving Teams[edit]

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

The RAN has two Clearance Diving Teams that serve as parent units for naval clearance divers:

  • Clearance Diving Team 1 (AUSCDT ONE), based at HMAS Waterhen in New South Wales; and
  • Clearance Diving Team 4 (AUSCDT FOUR), based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.

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

The CDTs have two primary roles:

  • Mine counter-measures (MCM) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD); and
  • Maritime tactical operations.


Álvaro de Bazán–class frigate, basis for the Hobart class air-warfare destroyer

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

To boost the RAN's amphibious capability until the arrival of the Canberra-class LHDs, the RAN acquired HMAS Choules (a former Bay class landing ship of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary) in December 2011, and the support vessel ADV Ocean Shield in June 2012.[11][12]

Future procurement plans include:

  • twelve Future Submarines, under Project SEA 1000, to replace the Collins-class (up to 4,000 tons, equipped with cruise missiles and minisubs);
  • eight Future Frigates to replace the Anzac-class frigates (possibly up to 7,000 tons and equipped with cruise missiles);
  • twenty Offshore Combatant Vessels, under Project SEA 1180, to replace the Armidale, Huon, Leeuwin, and Paluma classes (up to 2000 tons); and
  • one Strategic Sealift Vessel to replace the second Kanimbla-class ship (~15,000 tons, similar to the Spanish Galicia-class landing platform dock).[13]

Current operations[edit]

The RAN currently has forces deployed on one major operation:[14][verification needed]


Women serve in the RAN in combat roles and at sea

As of June 2011, the RAN has 14,215 permanent full-time personnel, 161 gap year personnel, and 2,150 reserve personnel.[15] The permanent full-time force consisted of 3,357 commissioned officers, and 10,697 enlisted personnel.[15] In June 2010, male personnel made up 82% of the permanent full-time force, while female personnel made up 18%.[16] The RAN has the highest percentage of women in the ADF, compared to the RAAF's 17.8% and the Army's 9.7%.[16]

The following are the current senior Royal Australian Navy officers:

The RAN needs 2,000 recruits, including 700 apprentices,[18] to crew the next generation of warships, such as air warfare destroyers, which enter service next decade. To overcome a lack of Australian recruits, the RAN began to recruit sailors who have been laid off from other western navies.[19]

Ranks and uniforms[edit]

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.

Royal Australian Navy sailors in 1998

Commissioned officers[edit]

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, currently being held by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. 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 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen 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.

Naval officers are trained at the Royal Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell) in Jervis Bay, New South Wales and the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Commissioned Officer Rank Structure of the Royal Australian Navy
Admiral of the Fleet Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore Captain
O-11 O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6
Commander Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant Acting Sub Lieutenant Midshipman
O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 S-1

Other ranks[edit]

Other ranks
Warrant Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer Leading Seaman Able Seaman Seaman
E-9 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2
(No rank) (No rank) Seaman (Australia).png
Royal Australian Navy sailors from HMAS Sydney during Operation Northern Trident 2009


RAN chaplains are commissioned officers and wear the uniform of a RAN officer. Like chaplains in the Royal Navy, they do not wear rank insignia, but instead wear epaulettes with a cross-and-anchor insignia. Like other chaplains in the Australian Defence Force, Navy chaplains have five divisions of seniority. Australian Navy chaplains are accorded a certain rank for protocol and ceremonial occasions and for saluting purposes. Division 1, 2 and 3 Australian Navy chaplains are accorded the rank and status as commander (equivalent of lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army). Division 4 Australian Navy chaplains are accorded the rank and status of captain (equivalent of colonel). Division 5 Australian Navy chaplains are "Principal Chaplains," and these three chaplains, representing the three major Christian denominations: Catholic, Anglican and Protestant, are accorded the rank and status of commodore (equivalent of brigadier). Principal Chaplains' uniforms do not differ from other Navy chaplains however they do wear gold braid on the peak of their caps. The title "Padre" for chaplains is less common in the RAN than in the Australian Army, although it is known to be used by many sailors and some Navy chaplains in preference to the more formal title of "Chaplain", or other formal forms of address towards an officer such as "Sir."[citation needed]

Special insignia[edit]

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.[20] 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)[21] and the Royal Australian Air Force equivalent is the Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF).[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Navy welcomes new Chief" (Press release). Department of Defence. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Stevens, David. "The R.A.N. – A Brief History". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  3. ^ C L Cumberlege
  4. ^ Top Stories
  5. ^ Australian Maritime Doctrine. p. 124. 
  6. ^ "Fleet Air Arm". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Laser Airborne Depth Sounder". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Amphibious Deployment and Sustainment – JP 2048 Phase 4A/B
  9. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (2009). Defence White Paper 2009. Commonwealth of Australia. pp. 70–74. ISBN 978-0-642-29702-0. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "Top 30 Projects". Defence Materiel Organisation. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "HMAS Choules commissioned in honour of veteran". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 13 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Ocean Shield the Navy's newest humanitarian and disaster relief vessel" (Press release). Offices of the Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel. 3 June 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Defence White Paper 2009. pp. 70–74. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ a b Department of Defence (2011). Portfolio Budget Statements 2011–12: Defence Portfolio. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-642-29739-6. 
  16. ^ a b Defence Annual Report 2009-2010, Appendix 7, Table A7.3
  17. ^ a b A new Hydrographer of Australia | Royal Australian Navy
  18. ^ Defence White Paper 2009. p. 114. 
  19. ^ Stewart, Cameron (10 February 201). "Laid-off British sailors to grab RAN positions". The Australian. 
  20. ^ "Defence Leaders: Navy". Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "Regimental Sergeant Major – Army". 
  22. ^ "Warrant Officer of the Air Force". 

External links[edit]