- Howland, Tony
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2010 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
This year, 2010, marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Naval Historical Society of Australia.
The last major anniversary we celebrated at the Naval Historical Society was our 30th. We marked that occasion with fanfares and social gatherings, and the publication of a special magazine entitled The Naval Historical Society of Australia . . . . 30 Years On.
The story of the creation of the Society and a list of the early luminaries associated with the Society, and that occasion, was well covered in both the 30 Years On magazine and more recently, in this year’s first edition of The Buzz.
However, there is a certain lack of detail in the coverage of the last ten years, and it is my intention to remedy that situation with a summary of where the Society is today. Much has changed, and we have much to be proud of.
Firstly, let me update the list of our Presidents. The beginning of the decade saw Vince Fazio taking over from John Snow. Vince was the incumbent for only a year but reports with justifiable pride that, under his guidance, the Society started moving from its location in the old Royal Marine Barracks, Building 32, into its current premises in the Boathouse, Building 25. There is a picture on the cover of this magazine of our ‘home’, located on the eastern side of the Island. We occupy half of this building, sharing it with the Naval Heritage Museum. The move was completed in March 2001. At about that time, Vince handed the reins to Bob Nicholls, who held the position until 2005. Gradually, during that time, the current facilities and organisation were put in place, and a firm home base established. Since 2005, the position of President has been held by Paul Martin, who has done much to improve and modernise the facilities and the range of services we provide, and to promote the name and reputation of the Society.
We continue to enjoy the patronage of the Chief of Navy, for which we are extremely grateful. In addition, all office accommodation, power, telephones etc., are also provided by the Navy. Computers, fax and photocopiers are either owned or leased by the Society from commercial providers. The offices are cleaned and maintained by contractors through the Defence Support Group. In turn, a number of projects and activities are undertaken by the Society in support of the Navy. These include:
- HMAS Creswell history essay prize twice a year for the New Entry Officer Course..
- Lectures to the NEOC students on the preparation of a history essay
- Compilation of senior officer biographies for the office of the Chief of Navy.
- Advice to ships and establishments and to various Defence departments on history-related matters.
- Assistance to the King-Hall History conference.
In addition we provide advice to naval personnel who visit our office for various reasons. We have a close and ongoing liaison with the Seapower Centre, Australia through the Director of Strategic and Historical Studies, Dr. David Stevens. We work closely with our near neighbour, the Director of the RAN Heritage Collection, Commander Shane Moore. There is also liaison with the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and the museums at HMAS Cerberus and HMAS Creswell, together with other ships and establishments.
However, our main task remains, as it has always been, to meet the interests of our fee-paying membership, primarily through the regular production of our quarterly Naval Historical Review and, more recently of our six-monthly Journal of Australian Naval History.
Our office continues to be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we regularly see 10 to 15 volunteers beavering away on the range of tasks required to keep the Society productively underway. We have over 40 volunteers on our books, working in various capacities, and consisting of both ex-Naval personnel and other interested people from industry and maritime organisations. The following regular activities keep the volunteers busy:
- Library – the management of a collection of over 3,000 books and other reference materials,
- Archives – as a principle, the Society no longer collects artefacts, regarding this as more correctly the role of the RAN Historical Collection. However, we do hold an extensive archival collection on Australian naval matters, comprising photographs, documents, diaries and photographic albums.
- Research – responding to the many requests received by letter, phone and the Society’s website.
As previously mentioned, the main publications produced by the Society are:
The Naval Historical Review, produced quarterly as part of the $35 membership subscription. The publication contains articles of historical and topical naval and maritime interest.
The Journal of Australian Naval History. The Journal is produced twice a year and is a separate annual subscription of $40. It is of a more academic standard than the Review and has an editorial board of noted naval and maritime historians.
Over the past few years, the Society has introduced guided tours of the heritage areas of Garden Island within the secure precinct. The tours take in the Naval Chapel, the Kuttabul Memorial, the Captain Cook Graving Dock from the outer caisson, and other points of historical interest. The tours have proven to be a great success with about 800 visitors a year, drawn from Probus, RSL and similar community groups. Tour guides come from the Society’s own list of volunteers. The tours, which take about two hours, are usually booked out six months in advance. Each tour is introduced with a video history of Garden Island and a briefing on the safety and security aspects of a working dockyard.