The National Archives of Australia has records about members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) who served as crew aboard RAN ships.
To use these records effectively you need:
- the name of the vessel
- the approximate service period of the individual
Navy ships: ledgers and tenders
The best available source for crew details is the ships' ledgers.
The National Archives holds these in Canberra in the record series A4624.
The series ranges from 1912 to 1956.
The Navy stopped recording crew information in this way after 1956.
Ledgers were completed quarterly for each ship, or shore establishment.
They contain the following information for each crew member:
- name, number, seniority and rank
- victualling details
- pay entitlement and period of full pay
- credit or debit adjustments to pay
- remarks about punishments or qualifications
The ledgers for each ship have been bound as volumes for each quarter, or three-month period, that the ship was on active service.
This is reflected in the title for each volume, for example, 'HMAS Rushcutter, quarter ended 30/6/1941'.
Some groups of vessels, referred to as tenders, have been recorded together as one ledger.
Tenders are additional vessels used to help or serve another vessel.
These generally involve requisitioned vessels. The ledger is recorded under the name of the parent vessel or shore base.
Ledgers often include individual crew lists for each vessel.
References to many ledgers appear at item level on RecordSearch.
Search using the name of the vessel as a keyword, and the series number as A4624.
Not all ledgers for 1950 to 1956 are individually listed on RecordSearch.
Reference staff can help you locate these ledgers and use the database. Ask us a question about records in our collection.
Other records of ships' crew
You can also find information on crew members to the rank of Petty Officer by checking punishment returns for 1912 to 1959, series A7111.
We hold several sources of information on RAN ships.
The Australian War Memorial also holds relevant information.
Our sources include the logs and reports of proceedings. Logs include information on:
- the voyages undertaken by vessels
- any incidents occurring on board during tours of duty
- the design, construction and maintenance of vessels
The National Archives holds:
- ships' logs from 1855 onwards, in a number of series
- records on design, construction and maintenance (including ships' drawings and specifications (series MP551/1) and ships' books and supplements series A4141
The Australian War Memorial holds:
- ships' logs 1911-1954, mainly 1914-1918 (series AWM35)
- reports of proceedings from 1939 onwards (series AWM78)
Access to the records
Most records about crew and ships are available for public access.
However some crew records may be restricted because they contain sensitive personal information.
In these cases, the remainder of the record will be made available. For more information, you can ask us a question.