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2 corrections, most recently by hilda-maclean - Show corrections

How R.A.N. Establishments

Grew With Fleet


During the war the growth of R.A.N. establishments was no less remarkable than that  

of the fleet. Depots in the capital cities overflowed into scattered subsidiaries, and staff offices   in other centres attained full stature. Naval stations of various kinds dotted the entire coastline of the continent, and shoots of them sprang up in the adjacent islands.

AN increase in ships from 16 to   321 and of personnel from 5,440     to 36,600 men, with the addition of 2,600 Wrans, largely accounted for this expansion. But special radar, degaussing, anti-submarine, Fairmile

and other schools necessitated sepa- rate staffs and buildings to house them and their equipment.  

How much of this vast organisation and how many of the highly specialised units will be retained has not yet been decided by Federal Cabinet, but undoubtedly the   activities of some units specially created for the war with Japan will soon cease.  

Whether Australia is to have aircraft carriers and other adjuncts to naval   strength also lies in the hands of Cabinet.

In his farewell address, the former First Naval Member, Admiral Sir Guy Royle emphasised that the defence of Australia. With its numerous adjacent islands and the vast ocean spaces separating it from its nearest ally, must be primarily by naval forces, which should include aircraft

carriers and the shore-based aircraft which operate with them.

Australia already possesses all facilities for servicing carriers and training mem- bers of a fleet air arm. The British Pacific carrier force depended to some extent on Australian fleet air arm stations estab- lished for them, and when the R.N. leaves for home waters these could be used by

the R.A.N.

Streams of men pouring out of the R.A.A.F., including some of the world's greatest airmen, could man any number of carriers. Some of them, in fact, have already had experience in the British car-

rier task forces.

Ship Routine Ashore

All shore establishments and depots are run to the same routine as ships. Even In     a city office the officers and ratings come aboard and go ashore, and the leave bus becomes the liberty boat. Everyone speaks of the floor as the deck and the ceiling as

the bulkhead. Time is measured by bells.  

During the war, Navy Office itself grew out of its premises in St. Kilda Road Melbourne. Extensive buildings were erected in Albert Park to house signals and communications, recruiting and mobi- lisation, and other surplus staff, including civilians, which could no longer be ac- commodated In St. Kilda Road.

Flinders Naval Base, where the Royal Australian Naval College is situated, was modernised and accommodation added for 500 Wrans. H.M.A.S. Lonsdale at Port

Melbourne, pre-war depot of the R.A.N.R.,    

was used also for gunnery training and  

to receive new entries to the Wrans. For

a time, the Forrest Hills High School was  

taken over for communications and signals

before they were removed to Albert Park.  

Sydney Base Transferred

Before the war, Sydney Naval Base was on Garden Island, but it was subse-     quently transferred to the extremity of Potts Point, where a number of old homes had teen resumed by the Department of the Interior in connection with the con- struction of thc Captain Cook Dock. Of these naval base headquarters first oc- cupied Tirana and Bomera, outside the old sandstone walls on which stand naval sentries with fixed bayonets. Recently, Kismet, on the other side of the road, was converted into a wardroom and living quarters for headquarters officers.

Farther up Wylde Street, Charlemount Private Hospital was taken over to provide quarters for Wrans. Then a few weeks ago a new building was finished almost next door for the communications office, which had to be greatly augmented on the arrival of the British Fleet, and addi- tional base staff which the growth of the R.A.N. had necessitated.

Early in 1942, Balmoral Naval Depot was commissioned as H.M.A.S. Penguin, the name previously used by Garden Island. lt comprises a drafting pool for the Sydney command, health rehabilita- tion depot for sea-going men, a fire-fighting school worked In conjunction with the

R.N., a navigation school under Comman- der F. G. Rednall, a medical sick bay, and Wrans' quarters.

New South Wales naval officers who return from overseas are sent on foreign service leave from Balmoral and go back there to await further appointment.

H.M.A.S. Rushcutter was a reserve depot for Sydney command before the war. When officers have finished their courses at Flin-

ders and go to Rushcutter Bay to attend     special schools. One of the most im- portant was the anti-submarine school, which expanded enormously during the war


The anti-submarine school began in Sep-     tember, 1939. In 1941, the whole Rush- cutter depot was used exclusively for anti- submarine training.

More than 500 officers and 1,500 ratings qualified in submarine detection during

the war.

Near the beginning of the war the Radar

School was established as part of Rush- cutter, but in a different location. Its work increased so greatly in size and importance that it was commissioned as   a separate "ship" In March this year.  

Officers and ratings trained in this school include French, Dutch, Americans, and men of other Allied nationality.

A R.A.N. Fairmile. R.A.N.V.R. officers who served in these craft with the Royal Navy helped in

the establishment of a Fairmile school at Rushcutter Bay.

Experts consider it the equal in scope and efficiency of any radar school in the world. It gives instruction according to British and American practice, and also deals with Australian equipment speci- ally designed for use In the Pacific.

At the beginning of the war in Europe, certain R.A.N.V.R. officers who had been yachtsmen were sent lo the Royal Navy on loan. After having served in 80-ton motor launches called Fairmiles, they re- turned to help in the establishment, of a Fairmiles school at Rushcutter Bay in 1942. A Fairmile carries three officers and 14 ratings. Altogether, 35 of these craft were commissioned. They were particularly useful for some operations previously car- ried out by destroyers. Two of these vessels were lost in northern battle areas.

Harbour Launches

Harbour defence motor launches were first commissioned in October, 1943. They carry two officers and eight men each. Altogether 20 H.D.M.L.'s were built. Train- ing in the use of both kinds of launches was given at Rushcutter Bay, from which the boats still operate, although the school

has closed.

Canonbury Hospital, taken over for naval convalescents, is the remaining unit under the aegis of H.M.A.S. Rushcutter.

Garden Island and the city offices and   units associated with it are known in the Navy as H.M.A.S. Kuttabul, a name taken from the old ferry sunk by the midget submarine. The ferry had been used as quarters by ratings employed at Garden

Island. Commander A. Powell, R.A.N., is captain of the depot.

Other units forming part of this estab- lishment, are the Sea Transport Office, under Commander A. V. Knight, which controls all R.A.N., and R.N. movements: Naval Control, which supervises merchant shipping movements; the naval recruiting office; D.E.M.S. for the defensive equip- ment of merchant ships: and the Royal Edward Victualling Yards as regards naval       personnel.

One of the most interesting units in this establishment is the degaussing range at Bradley's Head. This was established in November, 1943, by the U.S. Navy, but has always been manned by R.A.N. personnel. Its function is to check the magnetic conditions of all ships, naval and merchant, inward bound. It checks each ship's de-

gaussing protection-an electrically ener- gised cable around the ship, so that it will give the greatest possible protection against mines and torpedoes.

Lieutenant S. J. Neall, R.A.N.V.R., is executive officer, with a staff of three technical officers and ll Wrans.

At Port Stephens, R.A.N. personnel, Americans, and later A.I.F., have been trained in amphibious landings. The first ship to receive this training was H.M.A.S. Westralia, under the command of Com- mander A. V. Knight. It was there for several months, and subsequently took part in many successful island landings. The depot is named H.M.A.S. Assault.

H.M.A.S. Mindari is a gunnery instruc- tional centre in Woolloomooloo. Its prin- cipal activity has been the training of Australian and Allied merchant seamen in the use of guns. For this it used a "dome," on the ceiling of which cinema   projects a plane. Members of the class shoot at, this with Oerlikons and Bofors guns while attempts to distract, their aim are made by the realistic sound of guns and planes.

H.M.A.S. Maitland attends to north-  

ward and southward bound convoys, and

there are also staff officers at Newcastle  

and Port Kembla.  

H.M.A.S. Harman was a small wireless telegraphy station at Canberra before the war, but it has since been considerably


In Queensland, the Brisbane depot, H.M.A.S. Moreton, and the Townsville depot, H.M.A.S. Mannerie, were only staff offices before the war. H.M.A.S. Kuranda at Cairns, is a completely new depot for communications ratings. On Thursday     Island is the naval base H.M.A.S. Car- pentaria.

H.M.A.S. Melville at Darwin was for- merly a small staff office. It carries a big staff to look after the boom defence outside Darwin,

In Western Australia, the principal naval depot, H.M.A.S. Leeuwin, in Fremantle, is commanded by Commodore C. J. Pope. There are also small naval estab- lishments at Albany, Geraldton, and Broome, all of which have sprung up since

the war started.

Adelaide depot, H.M.A.S. Torrens, has grown like all other depots. There is also a naval officer and a staff office at Whyalla to supervise the docking of H.M.A. ships for repair. At Hobart, the naval office has become a naval depot. H.M.A.S.


Shoots thrown off from the mainland are H.M.A.S. Basilesk at Port Moresby. H.M.A.S. Ladava at Milne Bay. H.M.A.S. Madang at Madang, and H.M.A.S. Lusair   at Torokina. There are also port directors, with their staffs, at 12 other island ports.

Future Strength

How much of this vast, organisation will be retained depends on the strength of   the permanent Royal Australian Navy, and that is a matter for Cabinet decision. It would appear that certain units, such as D.E.M.S. and Naval Control and the island stations, must be soon eliminated. Estab- lishments on the western side of the con- tinent will at least shrink. Others, like Sea Transport, will have to be retained for a considerable time until the thou- sands of R.N. personnel have been sent back to the United Kingdom. Recruiting must continue until peace in the Pacific is ensured. Some units, like the Captain Cook Dock, will, of course, remain per-


It seems safe to assume that much of the huge naval edifice built in the shadow of   invasion will remain in peace - in case war clouds again appear.

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