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Sailors, Ships and Imperial Defence: The early Australian Naval Forces to 1922 One Day Conference at the RHSV

January 1, 1970 @ 10:00 am

MHHV and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria will hold a one day conference at the RHSV on Saturday 27 April 2013, between 9 am and 4.30 pm:
The conference will be opened by Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO CSC RAN , Chief of Navy (TBC) and the keynote speaker will be Dr David Stevens, Director Strategic and Historical Studies, Sea Power Centre, Canberra.

From settlement in 1788 to 1859, Australia depended on units detached from the Royal Navy based in Sydney to provide Naval defence. The Australian colonial navies, led mostly by the Victorian Navy, established the beginnings of an Australian naval tradition, including active service in New Zealand and China.

Australia became a federation in 1901 and the ex-colonial personnel and materiel from the new States were transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Defence. The initial naval force consisted of 14 naval vessels and 239 career navy men.

At an Imperial Conference held in 1909, a decision was made to establish the Australian Fleet Unit.

At the outbreak of WWI in 1914, the Australian Fleet comprised a battle cruiser, six light cruisers, six destroyers, two submarines and numerous support and ancillary craft. The ships and men of the RAN operated as an integral part of the RN and served in all operational areas.

With the cessation of hostilities in 1918, a world-wide period of naval retrenchment began; disarmament conferences culminated in the Washington Treaty of 1922.

This conference investigates key aspects of the early Australian naval forces.  It looks at the pre-Federation colonial navies, politics which led to the formation of the RAN, recruitment and service conditions of sailors in early CNF and RAN warships, explores the role of the RAN as part of the RN and its contribution to Imperial Defence in both war and peace, early aviation and submarine components and the impact of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty.

This fully catered conference is limited to 60 delegates.  Delegates will have the opportunity to take lunch at the MHHV-RHSV commemorative exhibition Fear God and Honour the King: HMAS Melbourne 1912-1928, an exclusive and last, opportunity to do so before the exhibition ends on 1 May 2013.   This conference will appeal to Naval veterans, historians and those who want to learn more about Australia’s early Naval history.

Click here to download the full Conference Programme 12 November 2012

The conference is supported by the Sea Power Centre, Canberra and Big Sky Publishing.

To Register and pay online for the Conference, click here
To download a registration form and pay by cheque, click here

To learn more about the Exhibition Fear God and Honour the King, click here

This is a Military History and Heritage Week event – to learn more about MHH Week, click here

HMAS Melbourne arrived in Port Phillip Bay on 26 March 1913.   It was the prequel to the RAN Fleet entering Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913.  Led by the battle cruiser HMAS Australia, Melbourne led the remainder of the Fleet into the harbour for the Fleet review.  Between 3-5 October 2013 there will be an International Fleet Review to commemorate this historic event.  See the Prequel at the Exhibition РFear God and Honour the King: HMAS Melbourne 1913-1928 at the RHSV over 18 February – 1 May2013, to commemorate 100 years since Australia’s first cruiser arrived in Melbourne.


January 1, 1970
10:00 am

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