On 25 November 1910, the Royal Australian Navy was officially established by the Naval Defence Act.
The Commonwealth Naval Forces were originally established on 1 March 1901, with the amalgamation of the six separate colonial naval forces, following the Federation of Australia.
The Royal Australian Navy initially consisted of the former New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland, Western Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian ships and resources of their, disbanded, navies.
The Defence Act 1903 established the operation and command structure of the Royal Australian Navy.
When policymakers sought to determine the newly established force’s requirements and purpose, there were arguments about whether Australia’s naval force would be structured mainly for local defence or designed to serve as a fleet unit within a larger imperial force, controlled centrally by the British Admiralty.
In 1908–09, a compromise solution was pursued, with the Australian government agreeing to establish a force for local defence but that would be capable of forming a fleet unit within the Royal Navy, albeit without central control.
As a result, the navy’s force structure was set at “one battlecruiser, three light cruisers, six destroyers and three submarines”. The first of the RAN’s new vessels, the destroyer HMAS Yarra (I), was completed in September 1910, and by the outbreak of the First World War the majority of the planned fleet had been realised.
The Naval Defence Act was passed on 25 November 1910, and on 10 July 1911, King George V granted the service the title of “Royal Australian Navy”.