Recruit School History

The RAN Recruit Training School had its beginnings in 1912 when the Clipper Ship SOBRAON was Commissioned as the 'Boy's Training Ship' HMAS Tingira in Sydney. Since the formation of the RAN a vigorous recruiting campaign had been carried out. A colourful poster stating:

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY
WANTED
SMART ACTIVE BOYS

Between 14 1/2 and 16 years of age

coupled with a picture of a cruiser racing through the seas with smoke belching forth from four funnels, displaying a curving bow wave and creaming wake, was enough to arrest the imagination of many young men. Recruits for the Royal Australian Navy were trained exclusively onboard TINGIRA until 1925 when a New Entry School was established at the Flinders Naval Depot, Western Port, HMAS Cerberus.

The Recruit School as it became known has been an integral part of HMAS Cerberus since 1925 and for a period between 1996 and 2000 was renamed Sailors Initial Training Faculty (ITF).

The school was set up in the buildings which are now the Museum and the Museum Administration building between the main parade ground and the Catholic Chapel. Lieutenant F Bolt, RAN was the first Officer-in-Charge.

Recruits were then required to be over the age of seventeen years. Those up to eighteen years became Junior Entry while over eighteens became Adult Entry. When the RAN College moved from Jervis Bay to HMAS Cerberus in 1930 the New Entry School study block was given over to the Cadet Officers as an Academic Block until their own block was built in 1936. The same building has also been used as the wartime Drafting Office and as the Supply School from 1946 to 1979.

In the depressed conditions of the late 1920s and early 1930s the Navy could be very selective about who was recruited. Of those who applied to enter as Recruits only 10% were usually successful. With the outbreak of WWII the numbers required rose dramatically. From September 1939 to January 1946 some 26505 recruits were trained by the New Entry School. From 1941 Recruits were entered for wartime service only in the RAN Reserve and after 20 weeks training went directly to the Fleet.

In 1944, a Recruit School Library and many wooden accommodation huts were constructed behind the location of the Junior Sailors Dining Facility and the Main Galley. The sudden wartime expansion was more rapid in its coming than the related construction and much of the re-siting work was done by the Recruits themselves. Their Parade Ground, then situated near the wharf, was made by the Recruits themselves, using gravel carted from near the old coal wharf. Recruits also demolished the old Chief Petty Officers' Garage and re-erected it near the wharf for Seamanship training.

At this time the Recruit School was commanded by the First Lieutenant. This position was later changed to Officer-in-Charge (OIC). These officers were then responsible to the Training Commander who was in turn responsible for recruit and seamanship training including Petty Officers' seamanship. The OIC of Recruit School was responsible to the Commodore Superintendent of Training, the Commanding Officer of HMAS Cerberus.

After World War II Recruit School staff were required to carry on for a number of years using wartime facilities. The temporary accommodation erected during the war, complete with hammock bars, continued to be used for a further fifteen years after the war.

In 1951, the RAN Reserve National Service Recruits began to arrive for full time training periods consisting of 124 days including two, three week sea training periods in the First and Second Training Flotillas (Minesweepers GLADSTONE, COLAC, COWRA and LATROBE). At this time the First Lieutenant of Recruit School was Lieutenant Commander Rance RN. 3255 National Service Recruits were trained.

In 1959 work commenced on two modern recruit accommodation blocks: Rankin and Moran, named after the Commanding Officers of two RAN ships, who were killed in action during WWII. The temporary, 20 year old, accommodation blocks were progressively demolished. An armoury and classrooms were built in 1956 and two more accommodation blocks, Waller and Getting in 1961.

Today the RAN Recruit School occupies the block bounded by Phillip, Bass and Cook Roads and consists of the four accommodation blocks, a new (1992) recreation mess for recruits and a new (1993) administration building that includes classrooms, and an undercover parade ground.

Today's Recruit Course is 11 weeks in duration and is aimed at inducting young men and women into the RAN and providing them with the basic skills and knowledge to pass onto a successful naval career with today's modern Navy.