EXAMINATION SERVICE
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY RAN
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

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On 2 September 1939, the Navy Board ordered all District Naval Officers (DNO's) to bring into operation the Examination Service. The Examination Service was in mostly full operation the following day. Naval Reserve volunteers who had been called up in August 1939 were used to man the Examination Service.

The Examination Service was initially established at the following locations:-

Darwin - 2 Sep 1939

Brisbane - 4 Sep 1939

Newcastle - 3 Sep 1939

Sydney - 3 Sep 1939

Melbourne - 3 September 1939

Adelaide - 2 September 1939

Fremantle - 2 Sep 1939

Hobart - 3 Sep 1939

Port Moresby - 3 Sep 1939

Port Kembla - by Sep 1941

Townsville - by May 1942

Thursday Island - by May 1942

Cairns - by April 1943

Milne Bay - by April 1943

The function of the Examination Service was to identify and to ascertain the character and intentions of vessels seeking to enter defended ports. This was necessary in order that defences could be made aware of any attempted entry of suspicious or unfriendly vessels. The Examination Service would also issue warnings to Masters to comply with local Regulations.

Port War Signal Stations (PWSS) were established at the same time at all of the above sites except for Darwin and Port Moresby which followed soon after. The duty of the PWSS was to identify all vessels approaching the ports before they were permitted to enter the harbours. If an approaching vessel could not be identified by the PWSS, it was directed to proceed to the Examination Anchorage, under the observation of the Examination Battery, and a further investigation was carried out.

The full extent of Port War Signal Stations operational during WWII was as follows:-

Sydney, NSW RAN Station 281 Located 1/3 mile SSE of Hornby Light. Signal sent from Naval Board on 12 Oct 1945 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Melbourne, VIC RAN Station 242 Located at Point Lonsdale. Signal sent from Naval Board on 16 Sep 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Brisbane, QLD RAN Station 1 Established at Cowan Cowan by early 1940 and moved to Caloundra Head 9 Sep 1940.
Adelaide, SA RAN Station 181 Located at the south western end of the Outer Harbour Wharf. Signal sent from Naval Board on 16 Sep 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Fremantle, WA    
Hobart, TAS RAN Station 221 Established at Cape Direction on 20 Nov 1939. Signal sent from Naval Board on 16 Sep 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Newcastle, NSW RAN Station 301 Transferred from Nobby's Head to Shepherd's Hill on 15 May 1940. Signal sent from Naval Board on 11 Nov 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Goode's Island, Torres Strait   Established 8 Oct 1940
Townsville, QLD RAN Station 22 Established on 5 Feb 1942 at Flagstaff Hill.  Signal sent from Naval Board on 11 Nov 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Magnetic Island, QLD RAN Station 21  
Noumea   Established on 5 Feb 1942
Port Moresby, Papua   Established Sep 1939at Paga Point
Milne Bay   Established June 1942 at Kana Kope. Signal sent from Naval Board on 27 Aug 1945 to close down the W.S.S. (Must have changed status from PWSS to WSS)
Oro Bay    
Madang   Established Jul 1944
Wewak    
Manus    
Rabaul    
Archer Point, QLD   Established by early 1940
South Head, NSW   Established by early 1940
Cape OtwayVIC   Established by early 1940
Gabo Island, VIC   Established by early 1940
Wilson's Promontory, VIC   Established by early 1940
Neptune Island, SA   Established by early 1940
Albany, WA   Established by early 1940. Situated at Princess Royal Battery on Mount Adelaide.
Rottnest Island, WA RAN Station 141 Established by early 1940. Signal sent from Naval Board on 19 Sep 1945 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Fort Direction, TAS   Established by early 1940
Darwin, NT RAN Station 101 Located at East Point. Signal sent from Naval Board on 19 Sep 1945 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Exmouth Gulf, WA   The Submarine Depot Ship acted as the PWSS
Cairns, QLD RAN Station 50 Located at False Cape. Signal sent from Naval Board on 11 Nov 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Thursday Island, QLD   Located at Goode Island
Fitzroy Island   Signal sent from Naval Board on 12 Dec 1944 to close down the P.W.S.S.
Langemak, New Guinea   Signal sent from Naval Board on 1 Feb 1946 to close down the P.W.S.S.

 

The general functions of War Signal Stations (W.S.S.) were:-

(i) To keep authorities informed of the movements of all ships of war, auxiliary vessels, suspicious craft and aircraft, whether British, Neutral or Hostile.

(ii) To communicate other important intelligence, however obtained

(iii) To act as a means of communication between Naval authorities and ships and vessels at sea, including transmitting advice and orders and receiving information.

(iv) Other functions were given in the War Watching Manual which was not supplied to the Naval Board.

 

The following War Signal Stations (W.S.S.) were also established

Albany, WA   Established on 29 Dec 1939.
Neptune Island, SA RAN Station 182 Established on 3 Nov 1939.
Cape Otway, SA   Established on 20 Oct 1939.
Wilson's Promontory, VIC   Established on 22 Oct 1939 for visual signalling.
Gabo Island, VIC   Established on 29 Oct 1939.
Caloundra, QLD   Established on 9 Sep 1940.
Archer Point, QLD   Established on 20 Oct 1939.
Fitzroy Island, QLD RAN Station 42  
Wednesday Island, QLD   Established by early 1940
Thursday Island, QLD   Established on 20 Oct 1939.
Booby Island, QLD   Established by early 1940
Mt. Nelson, TAS   Closed on 20 Nov 1939 when PWSS at Cape Direction was established.
Ladava?   Signal sent from Naval Board on 15 Oct 1944 to close down the W.S.S.
Dreger Bay, New Guinea    
Jacquinot Bay, New Guinea    

 

Observation Port

Port Kembla, NSW RAN Station 262 Established by April 1940 as an Observation Port, originally intended to be a PWSS

 

The following Examination Vessels had been requisitioned by 14 September 1939:-

Sydney Captain Cook II, Adele
Darwin Kuru
Brisbane Mirimar, Otter
Melbourne Akuna, Victoria
Adelaide Kooraka, Quorna
Newcastle Birubi, Captain Cook I
Hobart Morana, Mongana
Port Moresby Laurabala (A.S.I.S.)

On a merchant vessel approaching a port, the Examination Vessel would, if satisfied as to her identity and friendly character, give her the special signal and allow her to proceed inward provided the port was open. If the vessel could not be identified, she was ordered to the examination anchorage where a comprehensive examination would be carried out, if necessary. An Examination Vessel was maintained continuously at the Examination Anchorage near the entrance to the port. All ships were required to anchor there and submit to an examination before entering the harbour.

A ship attempting to enter the port without being examined would be stopped by the Examination Battery.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Perryman for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 21 April 2015

This page last updated 24 April 2015