Last modified: 2011-06-10 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: civilian manned defence ships | blue ensign | anchor: yellow |
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Royal Australian Fleet Auxiliaries Ensign
by Željko Heimer, 19 June 2004
According to a letter sent to the Admiralty in 1920, Royal Australian Fleet Auxiliaries
flew the Blue Ensign with the Admiralty Badge and the Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries flew
the Red Ensign. However in September 1928 the Commonwealth of Australia Naval
Board wrote that the Royal Australian Fleet Auxiliaries were flying the Australian Blue
Ensign, and a Blue Jack with the Admiralty Anchor, as flown by Royal Fleet Auxiliaries.
The Board suggested that, on the principle that flags of the Royal Navy and Dominion
Navies should all be the same, the flags should be a Blue Ensign (not Australian Blue
Ensign) and Jack defaced with a badge to be decided. A proper yellow anchor was
chosen, with a circle added to distinguish it from the Admiralty Badge.
[National Archives (PRO) ADM 1/8732/214 and ADM 1/8940.]
The badge appeared in the 1930 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book [hms30] plate 16 with the note
"On Blue Ensign or Jack."
David Prothero, 17 June 2004
Royal Australian Fleet Auxiliaries Jack
by Željko Heimer and Miles Li, 23 June 2004
Today I went to the State Library of NSW almost by accident, and found
that David was indeed quite right about the 1928 flag arrangement. In
John Bastock's book 'Australia's Ships of War' (Angus & Robertson
Publishers, Sydney 1975). There was a photo in page 76 of the water
tender 'Ripple'. It flew the Australian (National) Flag as jack, and a
British Blue Ensign (its fly was obscured by sunlight, but it probably
had the Admiralty anchor of the old British RFA Ensign) at its stern.
Miles Li, 21 June 2004
Album 2000 features a civilian-manned defence ships ensign - a blue ensign with yellow anchor.
Željko Heimer, 5 February 2001
I don't know what ensign is now flown by Australian Fleet Auxiliaries but the ensign
illustrated went out of use sometime in the 1970s, or possibly at the same time that the
Australian White Ensign replaced the British White Ensign.
David Prothero, 7 February 2001
It has indeed been customary for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to put most of her auxiliary vessels 'on commission', i.e. manned by naval crews and flew the White Ensign. However, before WWII there were nevertheless a few civilian-manned auxiliary vessels which would have flown the old British Royal Fleet Auxiliaries (RFA) or the (Australian) RAFA Ensign. During both World Wars requisitioned merchant vessels often had similar arrangements. Civilian naval auxiliaries were 'demobilized' after WWII.
During the Vietnam War the RAN requisitioned two freighters, and the
original intention was to make them civilian-manned auxiliary vessels.
The maritime Trade Union, which opposed Australia's involvement in that
war, refused to allow its members to man the ships. So the RAN had no
choice but to commission the ships, thereby putting willy-nilly teenage
conscripts on board. And the RAN didn't try to bring back the RAFA
Ensign ever again.
Miles Li, 21 June 2004