Navy’s flag turns 50 as the service marks 116th birthday

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr James McPherson (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

The Australian White Ensign (AWE) flies alongside the Australian National Flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, marking the 116th birthday of the Royal Australian Navy and the 50th anniversary of the AWE. (photo: LSIS Tom Gibson)
The Australian White Ensign (AWE) flies alongside the Australian National Flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, marking the 116th birthday of the Royal Australian Navy and the 50th anniversary of the AWE.

The Australian Navy has celebrated its 116th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Australian White Ensign with events at sea and ashore, recognising the vital service the Navy provides for the nation.
 
A national commemorative service was held at the Royal Australian Navy Memorial in Canberra, for all Navy members who have lost their lives in service to the country.

To mark the anniversary of the Ensign, the New South Wales Government extended the great honour of flying the flag from  atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Navy members conducted a Colours ceremony to raise the Ensign.
 
Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Mike Noonan, said the Navy’s birthday was an opportunity to reflect on over a century’s service to Australia and advances in maritime warfare.
 
“The Australian Navy has a proud heritage and is exceptionally capable for its size."
 
“The men and women who have served in Navy have created a force that is highly effective and well poised for the century to come,” Rear Admiral Noonan said.
 
“Today we pay tribute to all those who have come before us, and recommit ourselves to delivering the Navy of the future, as it is an exciting time to be in Navy, with new platforms and technologies rapidly approaching, and with a diverse and committed workforce driving that  capability,” he said.
 
The Navy was founded in 1901 as the Royal Commonwealth Naval Force and flew the British White Ensign. 

Following the renaming to the Royal Australian Navy in 1911, this practice continued until 1967, when Australia retired its use of the British  Ensign and adopted a uniquely Australian design.
 
The official changeover of Ensigns occurred on 1 March 1967, with HMAS Boonaroo becoming the first ship commissioned under the new Australian White Ensign. All commissioned Royal Australian Navy ships and establishments proudly fly the Australian White Ensign today.