- Lind, L.J.
- RAN operations
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1977 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
THE NAVY IN THE EARLY YEARS of the century prided itself in being capable of doing anything anybody else could do and do it better. It was the last years of gunboat politics and sailors and their ships were the implement to apply the policies. Punitive expeditions were still regarded as the most efficient means of bringing into line truculent natives arid when it came to natural catastrophes the Navy was first on the scene.
Because of the wide range of tasks they were called upon to perform sailors were trained to be good seamen, good infantrymen, good gunners and yet at the same time be able to repair anything, transport anything and build anything.
It was the age when a good officer was fluent in at least three languages and had a working knowledge of half a dozen more. The Navy appreciated the value of languages and officers were paid a special allowance for each tongue they could master. Vice Admiral Creswell could converse in four languages.
The four illustrations on this page are reproductions of post cards in a set called British Navy Series. There were fifty cards in the complete series and each showed a facet in the life of a sailor at that time.
Divers were virtual patriarchs in the service and the photograph of divers in action portrays the type of man who specialised in this exclusive field. The hard hat was a hard hat indeed. The 12 pounder gun crew could assemble or disassemble their gun in under two minutes and be in action in three. The horses, drivers and gunners were all sailors.
The Maxim machinegun was in service many years before the Vickers replaced it and oddly enough it was used by all the large maritime nations. A ship’s crew was trained to use the weapon in the field as well as in the ship.
The gunnery branch provided the personnel for all the activities in these photographs and it was the gunner who was foremost in land actions. Up until the outbreak of World War II most sailors were trained to fight on shore.
There are many who will list the shortcomings of the Old Navy but it was trained to carry on the traditions of Drake – to fight on land as well as on the sea.
The New Navy
Italian warship design has always led the other nations, particularly in unusual craft. The P420 Missile Hydrofoil is proof of the advanced thinking of Italian naval architects. The 25 metre vessel is equipped with two OTOMAT surface to surface missile launchers with a maximum range of 180 kilometres and a single shot kill range of 60 kilometres, and one 76/62 compact automatic gun which can shoot off 85 rounds per minute. The speed of the hydrofoil is not given but is estimated to be close to 50 knots.
The P420 is fitted with 3RM7-250 search and navigation radar, Orion 10X tracking radar and TV camera and NA10 mod. 1 fire control system.
Designed for use in the Mediterranean where there has been a proliferation of missile gunboats in recent years the P420 has a number of advantages over her contemporaries. She is obviously faster than any other similar craft in commission and can operate in very shallow water – her draft with hydrofoils up is 1.87 metres.
The craft should interest Australia particularly in view of the extension of territorial waters to 200 miles. It should prove an excellent patrol craft in waters where shallows and reefs are common. Its hitting power far exceeds anything of even three times the size in use by the Royal Australian Navy.
The complement of the P420 is two officers and twelve enlisted men in contrast to nineteen in our patrol boats.