Royal Australian Navy
The Australian White Ensign

Founded 10 July 1911
Country Australia
Branch Navy
Part of Australian Defence Force
Naval Headquarters Russell Offices, Canberra

30 ships, about 20,000 personnel

Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Raymond Griggs, AM, CSC
Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Rear Admiral Trevor Jones, AM, CSC
Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore, AM ,CSC
Navy Crest
Ship classes
Aircraft carriers Australia class
Cruisers Hobart class
Destroyers Battle class, Ballarat class
Frigates ANZAC class, Adelaide class
Submarines Collins class
Patrol craft Armidale class, Pacific class
Amphibious ships Wellington class, Kanimbla class, Balikpapan class
Auxiliaries Success class, HMAS Sirius, HMAS Endeavour
Aircraft flown
Fighter/Ground Attack AV-8B+
AEW Sea King AEW Mk. 57
ASW Helicopter S-70B-2, S-70B-9
VERTREP Sea King Mk 50, S-70A-44

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Established in 1911, the RAN was formed out of the Commonwealth Naval Forces to become the small navy of Australia after federation, consisting of the former colonial navies of the new Australian states. The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom continued to provide blue-water defence in the Pacific until World War II, when expansion of the RAN saw the acquisition of aircraft carriers, and other large surface vessels.

After World War II, the RAN was focussed on forward defence in South East Asia, therefore the RAN was structure to provide a carrier battle group to a NATO, or SEATO command. This was centred around the carrier HMAS Melbourne. After withdrawal from Vietnam, Australia changed its focus to a Two-Ocean Navy which would operate indpendently in home defence.

This was to be focussed around 2 carrier battle groups (one for the Pacific Ocean, the other for the Indian Ocean) with 4 large destroyers (the term 'cruiser' was avoided for political reasons, however the ships sought had a displacement of over 9000 tons), patrol vessels in the North, and submarines for survellance, interdiction, and special forces support. This led to an expansion and modernisation of the RAN.

In the event, the 'large destroyers' were not proceeded with until the mid-1990s, by which time they were ordered as Guided Missile Cruisers

The Daring class destroyers to be replaced and the Perth class guided missile destroyers were to be supplemented by a new guided missile destroyers. The new destroyers, the Ballarat class, were based on the British Type 42 destroyer, but with American weapons, and a different layout.

Two frigate roles were defined, escort and patrol. The RAN determined that to fulfill both roles, that at least 12 frigates were required. The patrol role was less important, and River class frigates were transferred to this role as Adelaide class frigates became available to replace them as escorts. The admission of New Zealand into the Commonwealth of Australia increased by frigate force by two ships, HMNZS Waikato and HMNZS Canterbury, which were similar to the RAN's existing River class destroyer escorts.

By 1990, the Royal Australian Navy had a substantial combat force force including:

  • 2 Australia class Aircraft Carriers (R)
  • 4 Ballarat class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG)
  • 3 Perth class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG)
  • 6 Adelaide class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG)
  • 6 River class Destroyer Escorts (DE)
  • 2 Leander class Frigates (F)
  • 6 Oberon class Submarines (SSG)
  • 15 Fremantle class patrol boats (PB)

Today the RAN is one of the largest naval forces in the Pacific region and has a significant presence in the Indian Ocean, and has undertaken operations in support of military campaigns and peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Today's fleet consists of around 60 vessels including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, patrol boats and auxiliary ships. The RAN today is one of the most modern in the Pacific and is tasked with the ability to defend Australian waters and undertake operations in distant locations.

The RAN's major ships are derivatives of Western designs. They frequently include Australian improvements, for example, the Adelaide class Frigates are based on the American Oliver Hazard Perry frigates, but include such improvements as an 8-cell Mk 41 VLS for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles. Unlike American ships, they retained their Mk 13 launchers, the capabilities of which are extended by the integration of SM-2MR, and Harpoon Block II.

Australia's Hobart class cruisers are Australian made conbatants based on the American Ticonderoga class. They are considered among the most powerful surface combatants in the world.

The ANZAC class Frigates were originally intended as light patrol frigates by the Labor government of the late 1980's, but have been progressively upgraded. Upgrades include adding an extra 8 Mk 41 VLS cells (bringing the total to 16), adding 8 Harpoon launchers, and a new mine avoidance system. An active phased array radar is slated for installation from 2009.

The RAN has two primary bases for its fleet;

  • Fleet Base East, which is located at HMAS Kuttabul near Sydney, NSW.
  • Fleet Base West, located at HMAS Stirling near Perth, WA.

In addition, there are three other ports which are home to the majority of the RAN's minor war vessels (patrol craft, mine warfare craft);

  • HMAS Coonawarra, at Darwin, NT.
  • HMAS Cairns, at Cairns, QLD.
  • HMNZS Philomel, at Devonport, NZ.

Vice Admiral Sir Russ Shalders, AK is the current Chief of the Naval Staff and was appointed to this position in 2005.

All Royal Australian Navy ships and shore stations use the prefix Her Majesty's Australian Ship. Some shore establishments in New Zealand retained the designation Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship, but all warships were redesignated in 1988.

Combat organisation[edit | edit source]

The surface fleet is organised into two Carrier Battle Groups (CBG East, and CBG West), each based on an Australia class aircraft carrier, and four Surface Action Groups (SAG Alpha, SAG Bravo, SAG Charlie, SAG Delta), each based on a Hobart class cruiser. Each battle group has a Battle class destroyer, and one or two frigates assigned

Current Fleet[edit | edit source]

(see Ship profiles page)

Major Combatants[edit | edit source]

  • 2 Australia class Aircraft Carriers (R) [1]
    • HMAS Australia
    • HMAS Vengeance
  • 4 Hobart class Guided Missile Cruisers (CG) [2]
    • HMAS Hobart
    • HMAS Brisbane
    • HMAS Perth
    • HMAS Achilles

HMAS Australia

HMAS Vengeance with USS Wasp, USS Forrestal, and HMS Invincible

HMAS Brisbane

HMAS Achilles

Destroyers[edit | edit source]

  • 3 Battle class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG) [3]
    • HMAS Gallipoli
    • HMAS Long Tan
    • HMAS Coral Sea
  • 4 Ballarat class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG) [4]
    • HMAS Ballarat
    • HMAS Toowoomba
    • HMAS Lismore
    • HMAS Goulbourn

HMAS Gallipoli, a Battle class destroyer underway

HMAS Coral Sea in profile with an S-70B-2 helicopter

HMAS Long Tan launches an SM-2 missile

Artist's impression of the Ballarat class Destroyer

Frigates[edit | edit source]

  • 10 ANZAC class Frigates (FFH) [5]
    • HMAS Te Kaha
    • HMAS Arunta
    • HMAS Te Mana
    • HMAS Warramunga
    • HMAS Stuart
    • HMAS Parramatta
    • HMAS Blackpool
    • HMAS Otago
    • HMAS Waikato
  • 6 Adelaide class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) [6]
    • HMAS Adelaide
    • HMAS Canberra
    • HMAS Sydney
    • HMAS Darwin
    • HMAS Melbourne
    • HMAS Newcastle

ANZAC class frigate HMAS Warramunga showing its launchers for RGM-84 Harpoon missiles

HMAS Parramatta contributing to international cooperation by performing plane guard for USS Theodore Roosevelt

Artist's impression of HMAS ANZAC with the CEAFAR and CEAMount radars

ANZAC class frigate HMAS Stuart

Adelaide class frigate HMAS Darwin. The Adelaide class is the Australian version of the American Oliver Hazard Perry class

HMAS Adelaide's Mark 13 missile launcher with a Standard Missile

HMAS Canberra firing an RGM-84 Harpoon missile from the Mark 13 launcher

HMAS Sydney showing the new Mark 41 VLS fitted to the Adelaide class

Minor Combatants[edit | edit source]

  • 16 Armidale class Patrol Boats (PB) [7]
    • HMAS Armidale
    • HMAS Larrakia
    • HMAS Bathurst
    • HMAS Albany
    • HMAS Pirie
    • HMAS Maitland
    • HMAS Ararat
    • HMAS Broome
    • HMAS Bundaberg
    • HMAS Wollongong
    • HMAS Childers
    • HMAS Launceston
    • HMAS Hawea
    • HMAS Pukaki
    • HMAS Rotoiti
    • HMAS Taupo
  • 4 Pacific class Light Patrol Boats (PBL) [8]
    • HMAS Tarangau
    • HMAS Dreger
    • HMAS Seeadler
    • HMAS Basilisk
  • 6 Huon class minehunters (MHC) [9]
    • HMAS Huon
    • HMAS Hawkesbury
    • HMAS Norman
    • HMAS Gascoyne
    • HMAS Diamantina
    • HMAS Yarra

Armidale class patrol boat HMAS Albany at sea

HMAS Armidale in Darling Harbour, Sydney

A Pacific class patrol boat, these are used to patrol the waters in and around the State of Papua New Guinea

HMAS Seeadler at its base in PNG

The minehunter HMAS Diamantina

The minehunter HMAS Yarra

Submarines[edit | edit source]

  • 8 Collins class Submarines (SSG) [10]
    • HMAS Collins
    • HMAS Farncomb
    • HMAS Waller
    • HMAS Dechaineux
    • HMAS Sheean
    • HMAS Rankin
    • HMAS Goldsworthy
    • HMAS Osborne

Collins class submarine HMAS Rankin snorting

HMAS Collins, lead ship

HMAS Rankin with USS Key West

The former HMAS Torrens - sunk by a Mark 48 torpedo from HMAS Farncomb

Amphibious Warfare Ships[edit | edit source]

  • 2 Wellington class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) [11]
    • HMAS Wellington
    • HMAS Auckland
  • 3 Manoora class Landing Platform Dock (LPD) [12]
    • HMAS Manoora
    • HMAS Kanimbla
    • HMAS Tobruk
  • 8 Balikpapan class Landing Craft, Heavy (LCH) [13]
    • HMAS Balikpapan
    • HMAS Brunei
    • HMAS Labuan
    • HMAS Tarakan
    • HMAS Wewak
    • HMAS Salamaua
    • HMAS Buna
    • HMAS Betano

HMAS Wellington and HMAS Auckland together

A cutaway picture of HMAS Wellington showing the storage of landing craft, Army vehicles, and helicopters

HMAS Manoora, a Spanish-designed amphibious ship

The new ships have a great capacity for stores, vehicles, aircraft, and troops

The ships can be used for training, assault, and humanitarian missions

The Manoora class carry the new landing craft now entering Australian Army service

The heavy landing craft HMAS Wewak in dock

HMAS Balikpapan on the beach. These ships have full facilities for extended independent operation

Fleet Auxiliaries[edit | edit source]

  • 2 Success class Replenishment Oilers (AOR) [14]
    • HMAS Success
    • HMAS Endurance
  • 1 Fleet Oiler (AO) [15]
    • HMAS Sirius
  • 1 Fleet Oiler (AO) [16]
    • HMAS Endeavour
  • 1 Sail Training Ship (IX)
    • STS Young Endeavour [17]
  • 3 Leeuwin class ocean survey vessels (AGS) [18]
    • HMAS Leeuwin
    • HMAS Melville
    • HMAS Monowai
  • 6 Paluma class coastal survey vessels (SML) [19]
    • HMAS Paluma
    • HMAS Mermaid
    • HMAS Shepparton
    • HMAS Benalla
    • HMAS Resolution
    • HMAS Tui
  • 1 Diving Tender (A) [20]
    • HMAS Manawanui

HMAS Success underway. Success can handle not only fuel, but stores and ammunition

HMAS Success refueling USS Essex

HMAS Sirius refuels USS Juneau. Sirius is a commercial tanker converted for military use.

HMAS Endeavour at Devonport, NZ. Endeavour was a New Zealand ship taken over by the RAN, and is named for the ship on which Captain Cook discovered Australia and New Zealand

Another ship named for HM Bark Endeavour, the Young Endeavour provides young people with a unique experience to foster community spirit

HMAS Melville is an ocean-going survey vessel. Occasionally it serves as a patrol boat, and carries a 30mm cannon for the job

HMAS Mermaid is a Paluma class Coastal Survey Launch

HMAS Manawanui is a New Zealand based diving tender. Its name is a Maori word meaning "to be brave or steadfast". Apt because Manawanui sometimes deals with unexploded ordnance

Fleet Air Arm[edit | edit source]

Fleet Air Arm S-70B-2 Seahawk

see main article: Fleet Air Arm

The Fleet Air Arm (more formally known as the Australian Navy Aviation Group) is the operational part of the Royal Australian Navy responsible for the operation of aircraft aboard ship. The FAA is currently an mixed force, operating helicopters, and strike fighters in both the following roles.

  • Fleet Air Defence
  • Anti-Surface Warfare
  • Land Attack
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare
  • Reconnaissance
  • Vertical Replenshment
  • Coastal maritime patrol
  • Amphibious Operations (transport of troops and supplies, aerial fire support, and air defence)

Clearance Diving Teams[edit | edit source]

Clearance Divers on a boarding exercise

Clearance Divers emerge from the water

The Clearance Diving Teams (CDT) of the Royal Australian Navy also act as commando frogmen: they consist of naval personnel who are qualified in diving, demolitions, underwater repairs, and reconnaissance. Clearance Divers can deploy from surface ships, aircraft, and submarines. They fulfil a Maritime Counter-Terrorist role as part of the waterborne troop of the Tactical Assault Group East (TAG EAST).

The Clearance Diving Teams are usually under the control of Australian Special Operations Command.

The CDT's have the following roles

  • Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), including:-
    • Location and disposal of sea mines in shallow waters
    • Rendering safe and recovering enemy mines
    • The search for and disposal of ordnance below the high water mark
    • Clearance of surface ordnance in port or on naval facilities
    • Search for, rendering safe or disposal of all ordnance in RAN ships and facilities, including the removal of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
  • Maritime Tactical Operations including:-
    • Clandestine hydrographic survey of an amphibious beach
    • Clandestine clearance or demolition of sea/land mines and/or obstacles
    • Clandestine placing of charges, demolitions for the purpose of diversion or demonstration
    • Underwater Battle Damage Repair
    • Support of TAG EAST (4RAR (Cdo)) in maritime terrorist incidents

List of Clearance Diving Teams[edit | edit source]

  • Clearance Diving Team One (AUSCDT ONE); assigned to the east of Australia and based at HMAS Waterhen in New South Wales
  • Clearance Diving Team Four (AUSCDT FOUR); assigned to the west of Australia and based at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia
  • Clearance Diving Team Three (AUSCDT THREE) (formed from personnel of both teams on combat deployments)

There are also ten Reserve Teams (RDT) that provide reinforcements to the regular teams.

  • Reserve Diving Team Six - Victoria
  • Reserve Diving Team Seven - Western Australia
  • Reserve Diving Team Eight - Southern Queensland
  • Reserve Diving Team Nine - South Australia
  • Reserve Diving Team Ten - Tasmania
  • Reserve Diving Team Eleven - Northern Territory
  • Reserve Diving Team Twelve - Northern Queensland
  • Reserve Diving Team Fourteen - New Zealand
  • Reserve Diving Team Fifteen - Solomon Islands

Commissioned Shore Establishments[edit | edit source]

  • HMAS Kuttabul - Fleet Base East
  • HMAS Stirling - Fleet Base West/NAS West
  • HMAS Albatross - NAS Nowra
  • HMAS Waterhen - Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group
  • HMAS Cairns
  • HMAS Coonawarra
  • HMNZS Philomel
  • HMNZS Wakefield
  • HMAS Harman - Naval Communications Area Master Station Australia
  • HMAS Creswell - Royal Australian Naval College
  • HMAS Cerberus - Royal Australian Navy Recruit School
  • HMAS Penguin
  • HMAS Watson - Radar Training School

Naval Weapons[edit | edit source]

Guns[edit | edit source]

  • 5 in (127 mm) Mk 45 Mod 2/4 gun
  • OTO Melara 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun
  • 30 mm DS30B rapid fire cannon
  • Rafael Typhoon 25mm naval stabilised deck gun
  • Mk 38 Mod 0 25mm Bushmaster cannon
  • Mk 15 Phalanx 20mm CIWS

Missiles[edit | edit source]

  • Standard Missile
    • RIM-66K/M Standard SM-2MR
    • RIM-156 Standard SM-2ER Block IV
    • RIM-161 Standard SM-3
    • RIM-174 Standard SM-6 ERAM
  • RIM-7M Sea Sparrow
  • RIM-116 RAM
  • RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
  • RGM-84D/G/K Harpoon
  • UGM-84D/G/K Sub-Harpoon
  • BGM-109C/D Tomahawk
  • RGM/UGM-103E Tactical Tomahawk

Torpedoes[edit | edit source]

  • Mark 46 Torpedo
  • MU90 Advanced Lightweight Torpedo
  • Mark-48 ADCAP

Mines[edit | edit source]

  • Mark 60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo)
  • Mark 67 SLMM (Submarine Launched Mobile Mine)
  • MN103 - MANTA
  • Stonefish mine

Australian White Ensign[edit | edit source]

This is the Australian White Ensign, it is flown from all RAN commissioned ships, and all RAN commissioned shore establishments. It is also worn on overalls, flying suits, DPCU, and DPDU.

Uniforms[edit | edit source]

The Royal Australian Navy has several different uniforms. The Service Dress uniforms are generally identical to those worn by the Royal Navy, with the exception of the title "AUSTRALIA" appearing on jacket shoulders, and rank slides. Junior sailors however have a different summer uniform, consisting of straight line white trousers, and a button-up white shirt.

Most sailors wear a grey coverall with safety boots as a working dress. Blue cotton drill shirts (called Action Working Dress) and trousers can also be worn (generally ashore, grey tends to be worn on ship).

Clearance Divers are involved in ground combat, and therefore wear DPCU, or DPDU as their working dress. Other naval personnel are issued DPCU and DPDU as required.

Grey coveralls and AWD are being replaced with a fire retardant variation on DPCU called Disruptive Pattern Naval Uniform (DPNU). DPNU in the AUSCAM pattern, with various shades of grey and green replacing the greens and browns of DPCU.

Disruptive Pattern Naval Uniform (DPNU)

Rank Insignia[edit | edit source]

Service Dress[edit | edit source]

Officer Ranks[edit | edit source]


Petty Officers, and Seamen[edit | edit source]


N.B. There is an RAN rank of Admiral of the Fleet, however only the Duke of Edinburgh has ever held this rank, and it is not considered an operational RAN rank.

DPCU[edit | edit source]

Officer Ranks[edit | edit source]


Petty Officers, and Seamen[edit | edit source]


DPDU[edit | edit source]

Officer Ranks[edit | edit source]


Petty Officers, and Seamen[edit | edit source]


The Future[edit | edit source]

The Royal Australian Navy currently has requirements to replace the Australia-class aircraft carriers, and their aircraft. The RAN also requires replacements for the Kanimbla class amphibious transport ships.

Historical Gallery[edit | edit source]

HMAS Melbourne (R21), the RAN's flagship from 1956-1984

HMAS Oxley, an Oberon class submarine

HMAS Torrens, a River class Frigate (sunk by HMAS Farncomb, see above)

HMAS Sydney, a Perth class cruiser, lost with all hands on 19 November 1941 in battle with German raider HSK Kormoran

HMAS Duchess (Daring class) firing a broadside

The Majestic class carrier HMAS Sydney

HMAS Lismore, a Bathurst class minesweeper

HMAS Westralia refueling HMAS Tobruk

The seaplane tender HMAS Albatross. HMAS Albatross is now a "Stone frigate" and home of the Fleet Air Arm

HMAS Hobart firing a Standard missile

HMAS Voyager, tragically lost in 1964 in a collision with HMAS Melbourne

HMAS Duchess as a training ship

Attack class patrol boat HMAS Assail

HMAS Yarra, a River class destroyer escort

The first HMAS Sydney, a Chatham class light cruiser which sank SMS Emden off Cocos Island in 1914

HMAS Arunta, a Tribal class destroyer

Fremantle class patrol boat HMAS Townsville

The short-lived minehunter HMAS Rushcutter

HMAS Hobart underway

The previous HMAS Australia transiting the Panama Canal


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