Research Guides

Royal Australian Navy Ships

Here is a list of sources in the museum library and elsewhere that will help you research Royal Australian Navy vessels, Australia station and colonial naval vessels.

Books

The Royal Australian Navy: Ships, aircraft and shore establishments
J H Straczek Sydney. Navy Public Affairs 1996
REF 359.009944STR
This is the check it first source of information on RAN ships. A great go to book for specifications and pennant numbers.

Australia's colonial navies
Ross Gillett. Garden Island, N.S.W. Naval Historical Society of Australia, 1982.
359.00994 GIL

Australian colonial navies
Colin Jones. Canberra. Australian War Memorial,1986.
359.00994 JON

The colonial volunteers: The defence forces of the Australian colonies
Bob Nicholls. Sydney. Allen and Unwin, 1988.

Bluejackets and boxers: Australia's naval expedition to the Boxer Rebellion
Bob Nicholls. Sydney. George Allen and Unwin, 1986.
951.03 NIC

Australian and New Zealand warships 1914-1945
Ross Gillett. Sydney. Doubleday Australia, 1983.
359.3250994 GIL

Australia's ships of war
John Bastock. Sydney. Angus and Robertson, 1975.
623.8250994 BAS

Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942 and 1942-1945
G. Hermon Gill. Canberra. Australian War Memorial, 1957.
940.545994 GIL

Royal Australian Navy 1914-1918
Arthur W. Jose. Sydney. Angus & Roberston, 1928.
940.394 OFF
The official history of the Royal Australian Navy in World War 1.

Australian submarines: A history
M.W.D. White. Canberra. AGPS Press, 1992.
623.8257 WHI

Fair winds to Australia: 200 years of sail on the Australia station
Lew Lind. Frenchs Forest, NSW. Reed,1988.
359.3250994 LIN
This well-illustrated book offers short profiles of naval sailing vessels serving in Australia from 1788 to 1988. Includes warships, survey vessels and sail training vessels.

Australia's Navy in the Gulf : from countenance to catalyst, 1941-2006
Greg Nash and David Stevens. Silverwater, N.S.W. : Topmill, c2006
359.00994 NAS

Kit muster : uniforms, badges & categories of the Australian Navy 1865-1953
John Perryman. Canberra : Sea Power Centre, Australia], 2011.
355.140994 PER
Very useful reference book on uniforms and badges.

Tiger territory : the untold story of the Royal Australian Navy in Southeast Asia from 1948 to 1971 / Ian Pfennigwerth. Dural, N.S.W. : Rosenberg Publishing, 2008
359.00994 PFE

Out of sight, out of mind : the Royal Australian Navy in Vietnam
John Carroll. Kenthurst, N.S.W. : Rosenberg Publishing, 2013
959.7043394 CAR

Jane's fighting ships
Library has 1898- .
REF 623.825 JAN
The reference source on naval vessels. Good for a brief summary with technical details and profile drawings.

Conway's all the worlds fighting ships 1860-1905, 1906-1921, 1922-1946, 1947-1982
623.825 CON
This series of four volumes is similar to Jane's and acts as an excellent ready reference source on naval vessels.

This is just a small selection of the most popular books that we use in the library. To search for books on specific ships (for example AE2, HMAS Sydney) enter the name of the ship in the subject field of the library catalogue.

Official records

The Museum does not hold any official records. The Land sea and air forces guide on the Australian Archives website features some official records. The publication below is an excellent guide to the Archive's holdings and is also a useful introduction to records held elsewhere.

Finding families: The genealogists guide to the National Archives of Australia
Compiled by Margaret Chambers. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1998.
REF 929.934 NAT

Service records are a popular research topic at the National Archives. This is a great point to start your search for RAN service records.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has extensive collections of books, manuscripts and photographs relating to Australian service personnel and the campaigns in which they were engaged and some service records much of which is available online.

Report Proceedings of HMA ships and establishments are the Navy's official records of activities of vessels, shore establishments etc and cover period 1939 onwards.

Illustrations

The National Library’s Trove pictures photos and objects search is the best place to begin your search bringing together a variety of pictorial collections from Libraries museums and archives including our own museum collection.

Illustrated newspapers such as the Illustrated London News, Illustrated Sydney News and Australasian Sketcher included quality drawing and are good for sourcing images from the mid to late 19th century.  Hardcopies of the indexes are kept on the reference shelves in the museum library (REF 387.50994 ILL). The indexes include Royal Navy vessels with Australia Station connections.

The Library also has an index to the Illustrated London News for naval ships compiled by Bob Nicholls.
REF 387.50994 NIC
This very useful and easy to use index covers ships of various navies.

We've even indexed some of the best illustrated books in the library to help you locate of images of ships. Find it on the reference shelves when you visit the library.

The Library also holds copies of indexes to the Dickson Gregory collection and Nicholls collection of ship photographs from the State Library of New South Wales. See the librarian to search these indexes.

Other libraries with excellent pictorial collections include:

The Naval Historical Society of Australia sells CDs containing photographs and a range of other useful resources on their website.

Sydney Heritage Fleet’s photographic collections also have naval content.

Check the catalogues of our colleagues at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich for naval objects with an Australian association.

Our research guide Pictures of ships in the Australian trade provides more tips on locating pictures of ships.

Journal articles

The following magazines have useful articles about the Royal Australian Navy.

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute
Library holds Vol.6,no.2 (1986)-Vol.13,no.1 (1987)
PER JOU

Navy: Official organ of the Navy League
Library holds (1949-1979) incomplete. Vol.51, no. 4 (1989)- .
PER NAV

Naval historical review: Official journal of the Naval Historical Society of Australia
Library holds: Vol.6, no.1(1975)- incomplete.
PER NAV
An online archive of the Review for 1979-1983 in PDF format, along with a list of articles is available at the Naval Historical Society of Australia website. An A-Z of article titles plus a search function is also included.

Warship
Library holds: No. 1 (1977)- . missing issues 2002-2003 ; 2003-2004 ; 2007
PER WAR

Indexes to Journal Articles

The APA-FT database from Informit is available in the library via the internet. It indexes articles relating to Australian Naval History in a wide range of journals including the War Memorial journal. Articles are available as full text. This database is also accessible via university and State Libraries around Australia.

The Catalogue of Material on Australian Naval History site of the Royal Naval Historical Society covers journal articles (as well as books and websites).

Ships Plans

The Royal Australian Naval Historical Society has RAN ship plans for sale on CD.

Other Sources

  • The Royal Australian Navy website is a very useful source of information on current naval vessels.
  • The Naval History Section at the Seapower Centre Australia website has individual ship histories of former RAN ships. Brief historical articles are also included. The Naval Historical Section can assist with locating information on memorabilia, medals, ship's badges, RAN service records, external sources and plans for model makers.