Wednesday, August 24, 2011

100 Years of Royal Australian Navy

By the 1850s, separate British colonies had been established in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. All relied on the Royal Navy's (RN) global supremacy for protection, and the stationing of a small British squadron in Sydney offered some measure of visible presence. Despite this, the discovery of gold and Australia's growing agricultural wealth increasingly raised questions about the adequacy of security provided, particularly with the squadron frequently absent on patrol in the South Pacific. As the possibility of war with Russia waxed and waned, NSW and Victoria went so far as to acquire the beginnings of their own local naval defence. The Victorian acquisition, the armed screw steamer HMVS Victoria, was despatched to New Zealand during the First Taranaki War in 1860. There she earned the first campaign award for an Australian colonial military force, but as yet there remained no legal basis for the establishment of colonial navies.