Following the Second World War, the RAN began a policy of blue water operations built around an aircraft carrier. Two light fleet carriers were purchased from the Royal Navy, one of which, HMAS Melbourne, was modified with all the latest enhancements in carrier design. Melbourne continued as the RAN's flagship until 1982, when it was planned to replace her with a STOVL carrier, again purchased from the Royal Navy. However, the sale of HMS Invincible was cancelled by the British Government after the Falklands War. Soon after, the Australian Government decided to end aircraft carrier operations.
When the RAN was first founded, it was decided that a capital ship would be constructed to serve as the fleet flagship. Initially conceived as a unit of the Royal Navy, the second Indefatigable-class battlecruiser was paid for and crewed by Australians, and was thus commissioned as HMAS Australia. Australia was the only true "capital ship" to serve in the RAN.
The RAN ordered two County-classcruisers in 1924 which were included with the Royal Navy's order for five; the loss of Canberra during the Second World War. Shropshire was transferred from the RN to the RAN to replace the lost ship.