What’s in Navy service records?
The Royal Australian Navy kept cardboard index cards as service records from 1911 to 1970. These service cards contain personal details including:
- surname and given names
- service number
- date and place of birth
- home port
- address on entry/re-entry and on discharge
- details of next of kin
They also contain service details such as postings and awards.
There are usually one or two cards for each person and they are double-sided.
Find and view a navy service record online
All navy service cards (series A6769 and A6770) have been digitised and are available to view online.
Visit RecordSearch. Use the 'NameSearch' function to search for the member. Select 'Navy personnel records' from the dropdown menu.
Use the help tab in RecordSearch if you have any questions.
View an original record
You can view a RAN service record in the National Archives' Canberra Research Centre.
If you wish to view a service record, please submit a request to view records form. Submit your request at least 5 working days before you visit to ensure records will be available in our research centres.
You can also ask us a question about accessing records.
Merchant Navy service
We hold employment records for Australian seamen who served on Australian merchant vessels on microfilm.
Records are arranged by family name.
- some personal information
- the names of ships
- dates of service
You can ask us a question about Merchant Navy records.
Records of pre-World War I and colonial service
The Australian War Memorial holds Australian Naval Forces service records from 1901 to 1913.
The National Archives holds some records for the Royal Australian Naval Reserve from 1897-1912. You can ask us a question about records in our collection.
Relevant state government archives may hold records of personnel who served with colonial navies before 1901.
World War I service with the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force and the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
The series containing the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF) personnel dossiers includes service records for those who served with:
- the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force
- the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
Find out more about AIF World War I records.
War gratuity cards for World War I and World War II
Most members of the naval forces who returned from World War I and World War II were eligible for a war gratuity or bonus to recognise their service.
This was paid as cash or government bonds.
All of the WWI naval war gratuity records can be found through NameSearch - enter the surname and select the 'war gratuity records' category
Only a few WWII records have been listed . You can do a basic search for the surname on RecordSearch, or ask us a question.
Records of Navy service after 1970
Records of Navy service after 1970 are held by the Department of Defence.
If you are a former serving member or their next of kin, you can request your records directly from the Department of Defence.
If you are not a former serving member or their next of kin, please submit a 'Defence service after World War II' enquiry.
Service records may include reference to service medals.
However, service records may not include information about which service medals a person was entitled to, or if they were ever issued.
Defence Honours and Awards can help with such enquiries.
Pension information and entitlements
For information on pensions and entitlements, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs.