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HMAS AUSTRALIA at anchor, Sydney Harbour

Date: 1913-1919
Image: 368 x 762 mm
Medium: Watercolour
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00050467
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

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    Watercolour by Fred Elliott featuring the first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) in Sydney Harbour, probably about 1913. Harbour launches and ferries are seen moving past the ship taking passengers for a closer view; other naval vessels and a three-masted sailing ship are featured to the left and right of the AUSTRALIA. This may be a representation of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Entry in October 1913, although none of the ships appear to be dressed (with flags).
    SignificanceHMAS AUSTRALIA was the Royal Australian Navy's first flagship and served in World War I. This is a fine representation of the cruiser.
    HistoryHMAS AUSTRALIA (I) was an Indefatigable class battle cruiser launched in 1911 and later commissioned the first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy. It was built by John Brown and Co Ltd at Glasgow and sailed for Australia in 1913 after extensive gun, torpedo and machinery trials. It led the Australian Fleet Unit consisting of MELBOURNE, SYDNEY, ENCOUNTER, YARRA, WARREGO and PARRAMATTA into Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913. It was the embodiment of the Commonwealth of Australia's sea power.

    In World War I HMAS AUSTRALIA was active in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during which time the ship became the first battlecruiser to launch an aircraft in 1918 (light cruiser HMAS SYDNEY (I) was the first Australian ship to launch an aircraft in 1917). In the Pacific AUSTRALIA took part in seizing German Pacific colonies and destroying their radio networks. In the Atlantic it took part in sweeps, patrols and convoy escort tasks particularly in the North Sea and was present at the surrender of the German Fleet at Firth of Forth, Scotland in November 1918. HMAS AUSTRALIA arrived back in Australia in 1919.

    In 1924 to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty )which aimed at reducing global tonnage of warships after the Great War) HMAS AUSTRALIA was scuttled off Sydney.

    In March 2007 the deepest ever remote operated shipwreck survey was undertaken some 50 kilometres off Sydney. The survey was a joint venture between the Royal Australian Navy, Defence Maritime Services and the Heritage Office, NSW Department of Planning. The visiting US Navy submersible CURV descended 380 metres down to the 180-metre long, 19,000 ton shipwreck - the largest in Australian waters. The site is protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976).
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