HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

6 July 2015

Jervis Bay, “"the navy’s favourite resort”

The Navy and the history of Jervis Bay have been running on a parallel course since August 1791 when Lieutenant Richard Bowen, aboard the convict transport ship Atlantic, part of the Third Fleet, sailed into the bay and named it in honour of Admiral John Jervis, under whom he had served.
The bay has been used by the British, Australian and surprisingly by the German navy before the first world war for practice.

At the moment the Australian Navy is conducting manoeuvres inside the bay,  sirens, flares and helicopters can be seen coming and going from this ship. Sound travels quickly and clearly across the bay. When this was taken a couple of days ago before dawn, the sound of the helicopter on the platform at the stern of the vessel was very loud,  soon after it took to the air.   The Navy recognised Jervis Bay as an ideal area for practice,   in the early 19 century the navy conducted much the same style of exercise,  but used live shells and ammunition,  which causes a few problems…    ”more on that story in another post.”.


June 30 1888 – Artists impression - Town and Country Journal.  The vessels Nelson and Rapid in Jervis Bay – Torpedo and boarding practice.


H.M.S. Nelson, the flagship of the Australian station, accompanied by H.M.S. Rapid, left Sydney on May 28 last at noon for a course of torpedo and gunning practice in Jervis Bay. The target, a large one made of canvas, supposed to represent a ship under way, was towed from Sydney by the Nelson. The first portion of the exercise was the Nelson firing torpedos at a target towed rapidly past by a steam launch. The torpedos, of course, were not exploded. The gunners showed considerable efficiency in this practice.


May 14 1898 – Artists impression - Town and Country Journal.  Shot practice in Jervis Bay.

Part of the description attached is quite illuminating.

“Not that one imagines an armed invasion of Australia by any of the Great Powers at all probable.  Still either Russia,  France,  or Germany might,  choosing her time,  work terrible havoc along  our coasts by means of a flying squadron detached from one of of the naval bases they are so busily acquiring in the east.  And in such a case our only means of defence or retaliation lies in the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, a portion of which the artist has depicted as engaged in shell practice in it’s favourite resort,  Jervis Bay.  The big ship in the foreground is the Royal Arthur,  first class cruiser,  on the left is the Mildura,  whilst steaming along in the background is the 18-knot gunboat Karakatta.


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Friday 10th July – more drills, sharp turns,  horns,  flares and  gun fire while being chased by small boats  involved in a small boat attack simulation..

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