The Australian Navy has celebrated its 116th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Australian White Ensign on 1 March with events at sea and ashore, recognising the vital service the Navy provides the nation.
A national commemorative service was held at the Royal Australian Navy Memorial, in Canberra, in memory of all Navy members who have lost their lives in service to the country.
To mark the anniversary of the Ensign, the NSW Government extended the great honour of flying the flag from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Navy members conducted a Colours ceremony to raise the Ensign.
Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mike Noonan, said the Navy’s birthday was an opportunity to reflect on over a century of service to Australia and advances in maritime warfare.
“The Australian Navy has a proud heritage and is exceptionally capable for its size. The men and women who have served in Navy have created a force that is highly effective and well poised for the century to come,” Rear Admiral Noonan said.
“Today, we pay tribute to all those who have come before us, and recommit ourselves to delivering the Navy of the future, as it is an exciting time to be in Navy, with new platforms and technologies rapidly approaching, and with a diverse and committed workforce driving that capability.”
The Navy was founded in 1901 as the Royal Commonwealth Naval Force and flew the British White Ensign. Following the renaming to the Royal Australian Navy in 1911, this practice continued until 1967, when Australia retired its use of the British Ensign and adopted a uniquely Australian design.
The official changeover of Ensigns occurred on 1 March 1967, with HMAS Boonaroo becoming the first ship commissioned under the new Australian White Ensign. All commissioned Royal Australian Navy ships and establishments proudly fly the Australian White Ensign today.
A full history of the Australian White Ensign is available at http://www.navy.gov.au/history/tradition/australian-white-ensign .
FILE PHOTO: The Australian White Ensign flies over a multi-national fleet of ships at anchor in Jervis Bay. File photo by Able Seaman Sarah Williams.