Naval College Customs and Traditions

The Royal Australian Navy has many customs and traditions, some of which have carried over from the Royal Navy. Here at the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC), you will put into practice these customs and traditions as you learn them.

The Australian White Ensign
The Australian White Ensign

One of the first things you will learn is the significance of the Australian White Ensign (AWE) and the Australian National Flag (ANF). In the Navy the AWE always receives the salute, as it is the embodiment of the service.

The Colours Ceremony, which is conducted every morning, involves the raising of the AWE and the ANF. While the flags are being raised all members stand at attention and salute. You will learn all about the Colours Ceremony as part of your Parade and Ceremonial training.

The following is an example of some of the customs and traditions surrounding a Naval Mess Dinner:

  • Ringing of the Bell will cost a round of drinks for the bell is a sacred item and can only be rung by the mess president.
  • Once the naval mess has begun, no one may leave to visit the heads (toilets) until an announcement of "You may now ease springs" is called.
  • Passing the port to the left is believed to be the following of a Christian superstition that encircling something anti-clockwise is to invoke evil spirits.
  • Passing the port along the table was implemented for practical reasons, as lifting a heavy decanter off a table in a moving ship might mean the table coming up quickly under the decanter and potentially losing the rest of the precious port.
  • Depending on the day of the week a different toast is made:
    • Monday - "Our ships"
    • Tuesday - "Our sailors"
    • Wednesday - "Ourselves" (as no one else is likely to be concerned for us)
    • Thursday - "A bloody war or a sickly season"
    • Friday - "A willing foe and sea room"
    • Saturday - "Our partners"
    • Sunday - "Absent friends"