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This material has been reproduced with permission of the Australian Postal Corporation

1986 Australia Post envelope commemorating the 75th anniversary of the RAN

Date: 1986
Dimensions:
Overall: 104 x 189 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Copyright Australia Post
Object Name: Envelope
Object No: 00051364
Related Place:Melbourne,

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    Description
    This prestamped envelope marks the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy on 10th July 1986 and was produced by Australia Post as one of a commemorative set of eight. It marks 75 years since King George V granted the titles of Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

    It features HMAS MELBOURNE, a Majestic class light fleet aircraft carrier active in the RAN between 1956 and 1982, and the Westland built Sea King anti-submarine helicopter. The Sea King were delivered to the RAN in 1976 and their role included delivery of people and provisions between ships and to shore, search and rescue, and detection of hostile vessels.
    SignificanceThis prestamped envelope commemorates the 75th anniversary since King George V granted the titles of Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Naval Reserve. It is one from a set of eight, each depicting a different naval vessel named after an Australian city. They were HMA Ships: ADELAIDE, BRISBANE, CANBERRA, DARWIN, HOBART, MELBOURNE, SYDNEY and PERTH. The ANMM has most of these eight envelopes.
    HistoryThis envelope marks the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy on 10th July 1986 and was produced by Australia Post as a commemorative set of eight. Each postmark depicted a different naval vessel named after an Australian city. They were HMA Ships: ADELAIDE, BRISBANE, CANBERRA, DARWIN, HOBART, MELBOURNE, SYDNEY and PERTH. It marks 75 years since King George V granted the titles of Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Naval Reserve. The artwork was created by Australian artist Brian Clinton, who amongst other artworks designed over 100 postage stamps.

    In 1859 a British Naval Station was established in Australia and a squadron from the Royal Navy was permanently maintained in the waters. It was eventually manned by Australian personnel. In 1909 talks discussed establishing an Australian Fleet Unit. The first units arrived in November 1910, the destroyers YARRA and PARRAMATTA. Less than nine months later King George V made his announcement. On 4 October 1913 the Australian Fleet of the RAN entered Sydney Harbour for the first time, consisting of HMA Ships AUSTRALIA, cruisers MELBOURNE, SYDNEY and ENCOUNTER, and destroyers WARREGO, PARRAMATTA and YARRA. The same year the Royal Australian Naval College was established.

    This prestamped envelope features HMAS MELBOURNE, a Majestic class light fleet aircraft carrier built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd in England and launched in February 1945 for the Royal Navy. As World War II ended, work on the vessel slowed down. In 1947 it was agreed that two aircraft carriers would be acquired for the RAN. Work resumed on the vessel and on 28 October 1955 the ship was officially named and commissioned into the RAN. Originally it carried eight Sea Venom fighters, 16 Gannet anti-submarine aircraft and up to two Bristol Sycamore helicopters. Later the vessel carried eight A4G Skyhawk fighter bombers, six Grumman S2E/G Trackers, and Westland Wessex and Sea King anti-submarine helicopters. Helicopter squadrons 805, 816 and 817 were stationed aboard the vessel.

    The aircraft carrier assisted in search and rescue for wreck victims and was also regularly deployed to South East Asia and the Pacific on patrol and escort duties from 1956 to 1971 as part of Australia's contribution to the Far East Strategic Reserve. HMAS MELBOURNE was involved in two collisions, the first with HMAS VOYAGER in February 1964 which resulted in VOYAGER sinking, and later with USS FRANK E. EVANS in 1969 which cut the US vessel in half sinking the forward section. In both events crew from the smaller vessels lost their lives, though MELBOURNE was cleared of any wrongdoing on both occasions. In the 1970s MELBOURNE was involved in major international training exercises including SEAHAWK, various RIMPAC exercises, SEA SCORPION, LEADLINE, KANGAROO ONE, KANGAROO II, HIGHWOOD, TASMANEX, SEA EAGLE, KANGAROO III and in 1982 SEA EAGLE and KANGAROO 81. The vessel was also involved in the operation NAVY HELP DARWIN following the 1974 Cyclone Tracy disaster. The aircraft carrier was decommissioned in June 1982 and sold for scrap to a Chinese company in 1985.

    The Sea King anti-submarine helicopter also features on this commemorative envelope. Based on an American Sikorsky design, they were constructed under license by British company Westland. Australia ordered ten from the manufacturer in 1972. They were delivered in 1976 and were incorporated into Squadron 817, stationed aboard HMAS MELBOURNE. Later squadrons operated from HMA Ships SUCCESS, TOBRUK, MANOORA and KANIMBLA. Their role included delivery of people and provisions between ships and to shore, search and rescue, and detection of hostile vessels.

    There were many events held in 1986 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the RAN, with highlights including a dedication of the National Naval Memorial in Anzac Parade, Canberra, by HM Queen Elizabeth II, and weeklong celebrations in October which included a parade of 2000 naval personnel from seven countries through the streets of Sydney CBD and an international Fleet Review spectacular on Sydney Harbour that included vessels from countries such as the US, Papua New Guinea and France, culminating in a fireworks display centred around the Harbour Bridge.

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