The Royal Australian Navy is 101 years old today. It was created on 10 July 1911 when King George V granted to the Naval forces of the Australian Commonwealth the title ‘Royal Australian Navy’.
Prior to Australia’s action at Gallipoli in 1915 and subsequently on the Western Front, the RAN was already actively involved in The Great War.
Early Timeline for RAN
- The RAN becomes a reality as a fighting unit in October 1913 when the Fleet, comprising HMAS Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra, enters Sydney Harbour for the first time.
- With the outbreak of war, Australian ships counter the threat posed by von Spee’s German East Asiatic Cruiser Squadron, which will depart the region leaving just SMS Emden to harass commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean.
- The RAN takes part in Australia’s first ever battle as a sovereign nation – the Battle of Bita Paka on the island of New Britain. Part of the invasion and subsequent occupation of German New Guinea, it targets a strategically important radio station.
- Able Seaman William Williams from Melbourne becomes Australia’s first fatality of World War I during the 11 September 1914 attack.
- Australia’s first naval loss of the War occurs on 15 September 1914 with the disappearance of submarine AE1 with all hands while on patrol near East New Britain.
- The first ANZAC convoy departs for Europe from Albany, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.
- The light cruiser HMAS Sydney breaks away from the convoy to engage the German raider Emden off Cocos Island on 9 November 1914 – resulting in the first sea victory of the First World War and Australia’s first naval victory.
100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy 1oz Silver Proof Coin and Badge Set
Issued in celebration of the RAN’s centenary in 2011, this limited coin and badge set remains available from The Perth Mint.