- Swinden, Greg
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations, History - WW1
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Rankin, HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment), HMAS Penguin II, HMAS Australia II, HMAS Melbourne I, HMAS Anzac I, HMAS Albatross, HMAS Brisbane I, HMAS Canberra I, HMAS Moresby I, HMAS Yarra II
- September 1994 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
On return to Sydney the ship’s company went on long leave. Rankin often spent his leave at his mother’s house in Sydney.
In mid February, CANBERRA departed on the summer cruise to Tasmanian waters for exercises with the rest of the fleet. This was the height of the Depression and many ships had been paid off in to the Reserve. The fleet consisted only of the cruisers HMAS CANBERRA, HMAS AUSTRALIA, the seaplane carrier HMAS ALBATROSS and the destroyer HMAS ANZAC.
CANBERRA returned to Sydney in April after the almost compulsory exercises held at Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast.
On 2nd June, 1930 Rankin joined the destroyer ANZAC as an additional officer for navigational duties. Rankin spent a little over a year in ANZAC. All that time was spent on the east coast of Australia.
On 31st July, 1931 he joined the seaplane carrier HMAS ALBATROSS as a watchkeeping officer. ALBATROSS had been commissioned in January 1929 but was to remain in commission for only four years. Rankin served in ALBATROSS until she paid off on 26th April, 1933. ALBATROSS visited Hobart in January 1932 for the traditional Fleet Exercises in Tasmanian Waters, followed by the Hobart Regatta. ((JONES, R. – Seagulls, Cruisers and Catapults. Pelorus Publications, Tasmania, 1989))
ALBATROSS returned to Sydney via Jervis Bay in March 1932 for the celebrations following the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In April/May 1932 ALBATROSS sailed with the Australian Squadron for exercises off the east coast of Australia. These were not usual exercises as the ships remained in NSW waters in the event of the Commonwealth Government deciding to intervene in the political strife then prevalent in NSW.
In February/March 1933 ALBATROSS was again exercising with the Australian Squadron in Tasmanian waters and her Seagull aircraft carried out a successful search for two missing fishing boats. News was received however in early March 1933 that ALBATROSS was to be paid off into Reserve. After a brief visit to Melbourne to offload air stores to Point Cook, ALBATROSS arrived in Sydney and was decommissioned. Rankin was then posted as a supernumerary officer to HMAS CERBERUS.
Rankin had decided to specialise as a Hydrographic Officer and on 18th January, 1934 was appointed to the survey ship HMAS MORESBY. MORESBY had been commissioned into the RAN in 1925 and had taken part in several surveys in Northern Australian waters prior to being paid off into the Reserve during the Depression. Moresby was reactivated in the mid 1930s and resumed her survey work in northern waters.
Rankin qualified as a Hydrographer Grade 4 (the lowest grade on completion of the Hydrographic course) and was to spend the next four years in MORESBY or on associated survey duties in Torres Strait. From 15th December, 1934 until 9th April, 1935 he served in HMAS PENGUIN whilst MORESBY again spent time in Reserve. He rejoined MORESBY in April 1935 and remained in her until 27th April, 1936 when he was again appointed to PENGUIN additional for Torres Strait Survey duties. On 27th December, 1936 he rejoined MORESBY and stayed with her until early 1938. Rankin was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 1st August, 1937. ((ROBERTS, T.F. (LCDR RAN, RETD) – Correspondence with Author. LTCDR Roberts served in HMAS MORESBY, 1936-1938))
During 1936/37 MORESBY operated around the North West Shelf. A common practice amongst Hydrographers is to name newly discovered islands, reefs or geographic points after the person who discovers them. Rankin Reef was named in honour of Lieutenant R.W. Rankin. ((IBID.)) Rankin No. 1 Oil Rig is now a significant feature on this reef.
During its time spent on survey work MORESBY would often visit Thursday Island in Torres Strait. It was here that Rankin met a young nurse, Miss Molly Broughton. Twelve months after meeting, the two became engaged. In late 1937 when Rankin was informed that he was to be posted overseas to a RN Survey Vessel, he and Molly decided to get married so that she could accompany him on his overseas posting. ((McLEAN (nee BROUGHTON), Mrs MOLLY (Widow of LCDR RANKIN) – Correspondence with Author.))
The two were married in Brisbane in October 1937 when MORESBY visited that port for stores and fuel. A full naval wedding was held, with MORESBY’s officers forming a guard of honour, but shortly afterwards MORESBY and Rankin went back to survey work and Molly did not see her husband again until December of that year when MORESBY returned to Sydney. In 1938 was the 150th Anniversary of white settlement in Australia and the Navy was particularly busy, especially hosting visiting foreign warships. On completion of the 150th Anniversary celebrations, Rankin and his wife sailed for England.