HISTORY OF THE RAN ELECTRICAL BRANCH

As related by our own PussersGreenies, so this account may not be 100% correct.


The Electrical branch of the RAN had its beginnings as the Torpedo branch way back and has evolved into the current configuration.  Possibly the best way to picture this evolution is by the use of a type of timeline.  There will be many fill-ins to be added as this page evolves and the small portion shown here is only a beginning, so please if you are able, provide us with some constructive input  -  just remember that this page is, like the Electrical branch, EVOLVING.

Here is a drawing and explanation of most of the early navy right arm rates, before the advent of the Electrical Branch.  Note the Torpedo rates (Nos 11 & 12) and the Wireless Telegraphist rates (Nos 19 & 20).  Click on the small picture to see an enlarged version.  This drawing sent in by Keith Bailey.

Why are/were we called "Greenies"?  During WWII, Naval Officers in the RAN and RN wore a coloured stripe between the gold braid rings on their sleeve.  This practice was abandoned around 1957.  The colours for each branch were:

BRANCH COLOUR
Executive BLACK
Electrical GREEN
Engineering PURPLE
Special Branch * EMERALD GREEN
Medical SCARLET
Dental ORANGE
Schoolies LIGHT BLUE
Supply WHITE
Shipwright SILVER GREY
Wardmasters MAROON
Ordnance BLUE

*     Special Branch Officers during WWII were Officers dealing with a number of specialist activities - eg Radar Officers, Intelligence, Metrology, Cypher Officers, Operations and other specialist duties.  Some even found themselves operating behind enemy lines.  The Special Branch wore "Wavy Navy" gold braid.

Doctors and Dentists were still wearing their colours until at least the late 60's, and some of the Schoolies at the CERBERUS "L" School were still wearing their colours in the early 60's - often mistaken by some for green of Electrical Officers.  Electrical branch personnel became known as "Greenies" because of the green stripe of Electrical Officers and the name has stuck ever since - indeed the whole Electrical Branch, or Weapons Electrical Engineering Division as it is now, is often called "The Green Empire".

Of course the term "Greenie" today, has a totally different meaning and connotation to the general public, and that is precisely why we called this web site "Pussers Greenies".  Engineering branch personnel were sometimes known as "Purplies" but this has not been as commonly used, the term "Steamies" or "Stokers" being used far more often.  No other branch of the RAN has been generally known by its colour.

The above expanded chart - courtesy of an article in the RAN Radio Mechanics Newsletter No 53.  Many thanks to John Saywell.

Recruit intakes at CERBERUS were into four Divisions:
MORAN division was for Electrical branch and Communicator recruits (R/LB's, direct entry Tiffies, RO's & TO's)
RANKIN division was for Engineering branch & Naval Airman recruits (Stokers, direct entry ERA's, Chippies & Naval Airmen)
WALLER division was for Executive branch recruits (Dibbies)
GETTING division was for  Supply & Secretariat recruits (Cooks, Stewards, SBA's, Writers etc)

Recruits were initially housed in four wooden blocks, each with four (or six) "dongas" where hammocks were slung each night.  The dongas had dividing bulkheads which did not go all the way to the deckhead and thus often led to "FLYING F***S" (condoms filled with water - or worse) being thrown over the bulkheads in the dead of night.  These four blocks were G, H, I and J blocks with I block being used by MORAN division and H for WALLER division, J for RANKIN division and G for GETTING division.  These four old wooden blocks have since been demolished.  There were no female Greenies in those days.

Today, there are still four blocks to house recruits, but they are brick with four man cabins, built to a typical ADF design (you can see very similar design accommodation blocks at NIRIMBA, MOOREBANK Army depot and probably most other ADF bases).  The first block to be occupied was MORAN block, in 1959 with the others coming online later.  The other three are obviously called RANKIN, WALLER and GETTING blocks.  These "new" blocks, together with an administration block are now the Recruit School, which came online in 1962.

    MORAN division is named after CMDR William Thomas Alldis MORAN
Commanding Officer,  HMAS VAMPIRE(1),  who died on 9 April 1942, aged 38
Cemetery: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL Devon, UK
Grave or Reference Panel Number: Panel 72, Column 2

    WALLER division is named after CAPT Hector WALLER
Commanding Officer,  HMAS PERTH(1),  who went down with his ship on 1 March 1942, when PERTH was sunk along with USS HOUSTON, in Sunda Strait,  by the Japanese during the Battle of Sunda Strait

    RANKIN division is named after LCDR Robert William RANKIN
Commanding Officer,  HMAS YARRA(2),  who died on 4 March 1942, when YARRA was sunk by the Japanese south of Java

    GETTING division is named after CAPT Frank E GETTING
Commanding Officer,  HMAS CANBERRA(1),  who died on 9 August 1942, after being mortally wounded in the action not long before CANBERRA was scuttled by torpedo, after she was disabled by the Japanese in the Battle of Savo Island during the Guadalcanal campaign


ELECTRICAL BRANCH OF THE RAN

1881    Electrical and Torpedo training for Australian sailors began at Williamstown Naval Depot, the main shore facility for the Victorian Navy.  This depot was also known as the Williamstown Torpedo Depot.

1901    The rating of Electrician was established

1912    Electricians became Electrical Artificers

1916-17    The first buildings of the Torpedo school at CERBERUS were constructed

1920    Flinders Naval Depot (HMAS CERBERUS) was officially opened and the Torpedo school commenced operation with OA's training commencing the following year.  The Torpedo branch was also responsible for general electrical maintenance, except for Wireless Telegraphy equipment which was maintained by the Telegraphists.

WWII:    We are still looking for more information on the branch during this era.

1947/48    The Electrical branch was officially formed in the RAN on 1 January 1948 just one year after the branch formation in the Royal Navy, and the original Torpedo school at CERBERUS became the new Electrical school under the Command of LCDR GFE Knox RAN.   Read some historical Navy Orders on the branch formation by clicking here, courtesy of Dave Ledger.

1950's    The Electrical branch consisted of general service ratings (P, E and R) as well as Artificers (EAP, EAR, OA) with a Petty Officer being POEP, POE(E), PORE and the other ranks were similar.

P rates maintained power generation, distribution and lighting systems
E rates maintained sonar, weapon control systems & gyro systems
R rates maintained radar, radar displays & wireless transmitters and receivers
OA's maintained weapons systems, guns & launchers with some emphasis on hydraulics

There were General service intakes at CERBERUS with some very early Radio types having their initial training at the Adelaide School of Mines.  In the 1950's the radio branch training transferred to CERBERUS, or FND (Flinders Naval Depot) as it was better known.  General service Electrical branch recruits were called R/LB (Recruit Electrical Branch) until they completed their basic recruit and electrical training, when they were EM2 or REM2.

1956    The Apprentice intakes were commenced in July of this year and initial Apprentice training for all Electrical and Engineering Apprentices was done at NIRIMBA.  Apprentices were also known as MOBI's (Most Objectionable Bastards Imaginable) and they were rightly very proud of being called MOBI's.  They were also later known as MUPPET's - possibly around the time of the TV show, which stood for "Most Useless Pricks Pussers Ever Trained".  The Apprentice training scheme continued at NIRIMBA with some electrical Apprentices undertaking formal TAFE courses at North Sydney and Granville TAFE Colleges, until the last class passed out in November 1993.  These names for Naval Apprentices were used in a light-hearted fashion and had no spiteful meaning.

1959    The 50th intake of Electrical branch recruits at CERBERUS was around late March / early April.  In 1959, Moran 49 class, were the last Electrical branch intake to be housed in "I" block (one of the old wooden blocks with hammocks) and were thus among the first electrical recruits to be relocated to the new brick "Moran" block.  The 50th intake would have been the first intake to totally bypass "I" block and be housed directly into MORAN block.

1962    The Navy introduced the recommendations of the "RATSTRUC" study which ended up with the splitting of the "R" category into WR & C and the renaming of the "E" category to WE early 1964.  The recategorisation of the Artificers to Systems Artificers also resulted from RATSTRUC.  The Electrical branch also at this time became the Weapons Electrical Engineering Division (WEE division).  New rates of SAAC and SAAW (Air Comms & Air Weapons) were introduced.  At this point, the RAN began to differ from its previously parallel development with the RN.

1964    In January, some of the electrical rates were split and others renamed, resulting from RATSTRUC:
    The REM rate was split into WR (Weapons Radar) & C (Communications) - approximately 50-50
    The E (Electronics) rate was renamed to WE (Weapons Electronics)
    EA's and OA's were recategorised to SA's around this time as well.  OA's became SAP and EA's became SAW (Weapons) or SAC (Communications)

1972    The Navy restructured once again, this time as a result of "SAILSTRUC" - and the WEE Division, along with most other branches, was just about totally reorganised and the rates were all changed.  Official numbers for new intake recruits became "S012345" in lieu of the previous "R012345".  Currently serving sailors with an Official number beginning with "R" were given the option of changing to "S" provided training could accommodate the progress of that individual throughout their career.  We have no idea how many opted to change from the "RATSTRUC" conditions to "SAILSTRUC".
    All sailors, both junior and senior rates as well as artificers, became AB, LS, PO, CPO, WO etc.,  (Warrant Officers were reintroduced into the RAN in December 1971 after a long absence), followed by their branch & rate.  ABETS, LSETS etc., for S rates and similar for W and C rates.  There was no longer a separation in rating between general service sailors and artificers (eg POEC and SAC)
    The P rate was transferred to the Engineering branch and thus electricians became MTL.  This transfer upset quite a lot of branch members and did not last more than about 3 years, with P rates reverting to the WEE Division and becoming ETP (ABETP, LSETP etc)  -  see below.
    The WR, SAW and WE rates were combined and became S
    Weapons maintainers, such as SAP and WM became the new W rate

1975    The previous "P" rates who were made "MTL" in 1972 returned to the WEE Division around September, becoming ETP.  At last all electrical ratings were once again in the same branch.  Female Greenies were employed at this time.  They were restricted to "C" rates at first, and also restricted to working at the shore-based Communications centres at HARMAN, BELCONNEN, DARWIN etc.

1979    Females began training at NIRIMBA as ET's.  This was merely another location for female Greenie basic training, as  they were not female MOBI's.

1982    The Weapons Electrical Engineering Division now consists of only four categories of ET:  Power, Systems, Weapons and Communications.

1993    The last intake of Apprentices at NIRIMBA passed out in November.

1990's    There was a period when Weapons Electrical rates became simply known as "ET" with no specialisation category.  We think that this was a total failure and as a result was quite short lived.  This "experiment" (for want of a better word) meant that all personnel in the branch were to become "Jack of all trades", and probably as a consequence, "Master of none".  A disaster in the making . . . .


SOME WEAPONS ELECTRICAL DIVISION EQUIPMENT

Some of the equipment maintained by the WEE Branch is tabulated below.  This equipment is not listed in any particular order and much more may well be missing.  It has been posted as a guide only.

ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION AND GENERATION  -  "P" rates

EQUIPMENT PURPOSE
High Power distribution Operation & maintenance of AC and DC Generators, Switchboards and associated distribution equipment under normal & emergency conditions. Includes 220V DC Ringmain Systems in Aircraft Carriers MELBOURNE & SYDNEY to the 440V 3Ph Systems in the later AC ships.
Low Power distribution Operation & maintenance of Low Power and Conversion Equipment including Rotating and Static Convertors, Boats & Battery maintenance, emergency lighting (AEL – Automatic Emergency Lanterns), telephone exchanges & audio / P.A.Systems
Domestic Electrics

The rest  -  (stuff the other greenies wouldn’t touch ???)  -  Cathodic Protection – Ship’s Hull Corrosion Protection, both Impressed and Sacrificial, Degaussing Equipment, Galley equipment, AC & DC Ventilation Systems with Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Electrics.

Machinery space electrics / Steering Gear / Telegraphs Maintenance of the equipment that make the “Go Machines” go in the right direction. Main and auxiliary machinery pumps & control equipment. Alarms and automatic shut down panels.

 

RADAR SETS & DISPLAYS  -  "R" rates, later "WR" and/or "S" rates

EQUIPMENT PURPOSE
262 Gunnery direction radar, also used as direction for SEACAT missiles, but not in the RAN  (I band  - 10GHz)  Fitted to "Q" class frigates and the Darings.  The 262 director was the CRBFD
277 / 293 Medium range air search (293) and height finding (277) radar  (E/F band - 3GHz)  Fitted to many RAN ships up to about 1964
275 Gunnery direction radar fitted on Battle class (ANZAC & TOBRUK) also original fit on the Darings  (E/F Band  -  3GHz)
903 Gunnery direction radar fitted to Type 12 frigates (YARRA, PARRAMATTA, STUART, DERWENT) and DUCHESS (I band  -  10GHz)
960 Long range air search radar fitted to MELBOURNE, & possibly SYDNEY.  (A Band, VHF,  80 - 90 MHz) of WWII vintage  also installed at WATSON for training purposes
944 / 954 IFF system fitted on Type 12's and probably Darings as well
974 / 975 / 978 Navigation radar sets, from different times - the 975 was the latest and was adapted from a civvy radar made by Kelvin-Hughes.  One or the other fitted to most ships in the RAN over the years up to and including the DDG's  (All I band)
LWO-2 Long range air search radar fitted to Type 12's and Darings, also replaced 960 on MELBOURNE  (D band  - 1.2 GHz)
M-22 Weapon control, frequency agile radar using "monopulse" techniques for target lock.  Fitted to the later type 12's (SWAN & TORRENS) and retrofitted to PARRAMATTA, YARRA and the Darings in place of the 275, as well  (I band)
M-44 Guidance radar for the Seacat missile system on SWAN & TORRENS
AN/SPS-10 & AN/SPS-67(V) US surface search radar (G band - 5 GHz) SPS-10 initially fitted to DDG's, later modified to AN/SPS-67
AN/SPS-40 Long range 2-D air search radar fitted in DDG's utilising MTI (Moving Target Indication), as well as pulse compression & expansion   (B Band, UHF,  400 - 450 MHz)
AN/SPS-52 Long range 3-D air search radar with MTI and height indication  (E/F band)  We're told that PERTH was the first ship to take this radar to sea
AN/SPS-55 Navigation radar on the FFG's
AN/SPG-51C Tartar missile fire control and guidance radar (I band)
AN/SPG-53A & 53F Gunnery fire control radar on the DDG's (I band), somewhat similar in design to the 903
AN/SPN-35A Precision approach radar fitted to the carrier MELBOURNE
AN/SPS-49 Long range air search radar fitted to the FFG's and ANZAC class FFH's (C Band,  850 - 942MHz)
Saab TIR Air / surface search radar fitted to the ANZAC class FFH's  -  G band  (4-6GHz)
STN Atlas Electronik 9600 ARPA Navigation radar fitted to ANZAC class FFH's  -  I band  (8-10GHz)
AN-SPS-T2A A radar trainer set to help train RP's in recognising moving targets.  Fitted to the DDG's and not used very frequently.
AN/SPA-43 "INTAC" (Intercept Tracking and Control) - a piece of equipment fitted to the DDG's to aid in the tracking of up to 10 aircraft at once.  The equipment was a combination of an analogue and a digital computer and was a forerunner to today's more sophisticated "ARPA" displays.
JE / JC Early radar PPI displays - the JE (bright blue cabinet) used "M-type" transmitters & receivers for coil rotation while the JC (pale blue/grey cabinet) used servos for rotation
JDA Newer radar displays fitted to type 12's.  These used "fixed coil deflection" to give a rotating trace
JUA The radar display which was usually associated with the 978 radar set.
JW A large radar display - about 30 inch diameter, using a radar picture projected by mirrors onto the underside of a display surface - fitted on MELBOURNE
JYA A radar display projected onto the underside of a plotting table, fitted on the type 12's and Darings
Ikara EXDAK External data link - part of the total Ikara system
AN/SPA-4C A general purpose PPI radar display fitted on the DDG's
AN/SPA-25 A general purpose PPI radar display fitted later to the DDG's, replacing the AN/SPA-4
AN/SPA-27 Height finder radar display fitted to the DDG's and used in conjunction with the SPS-52 radar.
AN/SPA-34 The standard PPI radar display - original fit on the DDG's
AN/SPA-50 A large (about 25 inch diameter), radar display on the DDG's using a huge cathode ray tube as opposed to projection techniques
AN/UPX-22 IFF equipment fitted on DDG's
AN/UYK-7 The original Naval Combat Data System (NCDS) and Weapons Control System (WCS) computers fitted on DDG's and FFG's
AN/UYK-20 Updated NCDS computers - to be replaced once again
AN/UYK-43 Replacement NCDS computers on FFG's.  Being upgraded yet again under the latest FFG upgrade program.
AIMS Mk12 IFF system fitted to the FFG's
Cossor IFF IFF system fitted to new FFH ANZAC class ships

Please note that the frequency bands mentioned in the table above, are today's more modern ECM frequency bands and not the original (now outdated) WWII-derived military radar frequency bands as some of us knew them.

 

WIRELESS (RADIO) COMMUNICATIONS  -  "R" rates and later "C" rates

EQUIPMENT PURPOSE
B28 HF radio receiver - an earlier receiver than the B40
B40 / B41 HF (B40) and LF/MF (B41) radio receivers used for voice, morse and teletype reception.
62B HF/MF receiver designed mainly for SRE (ships entertainment radio) with better quality audio output then B40's
AN/URR-1051 HF Receiver - fitted on DDG's and later
AN/URT-23V HF Transmitter on the DDG's and later
600 series HF & MF radio transmitters of various power outputs - 50W to 500W (601 [HF/50w], 602[MF/50w], 603[HF/500w], 604[MF/500w] & 605[HF/MF/500w])
618-T HF Transceiver for Ship/Shore and Ship/Ship communications.  In use during the mid-'60s
691 / CUH UHF Transmitter & Receiver (CUH) - about 10W output
692 / CUJ UHF Transmitter & Receiver (CUJ) - about 400 UHF channels and approx 20W output
693 692 with amplifier to boost output to around 100W
FH-4 HF Direction finder, fitted on the older ships (Q-Class, Battles, MELBOURNE etc)
FM-12 MF Direction finder, fitted on the older ships (Q-Class, Battles, MELBOURNE etc)
AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) set fitted on FFG's
AN/SLR-2 Direction finding and radar classification equipment used to find other transmitting radar and classify that radar, hopefully identifying the ship / aircraft using it.  Fitted on type 12's
Loran Radio navigation equipment fitted to a number of our ships
AN/ULQ-6 Electronic countermeasures equipment
AN/URC-58 HF SSB Transceiver - 100W output  Attack class PB's
AN/URT-24 HF Transmitter - 100W on DE, DDG & Sweepers
AN/URC-9 UHF Transceiver - 20-30W output on DE, possibly DDG
AN/URN-20, AN/URN-25 TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation) equipment on DDG's
KW-7, KW-26 & KW-37 Crypto decoders - there were also a number of other decoders in use and most may be viewed at http://www.jproc.ca/crypto/

 

ELECTRONICS AND WEAPONS  -  "E" rates, later "WE" and/or "S" rates

EQUIPMENT PURPOSE
AS162M ASDIC (sonar) bottom profiler
AS170 ASDIC set fitted to most early RAN ships (Darings, Q-Class and type 12's)  Also known as the "attack" ASDIC
AS176 Listening (passive) ASDIC set fitted on the type 12's
AS177 Search ASDIC set fitted to Type 12 frigates
AS185 Underwater telephone fitted to all DE's, O Boats and DDG's
Mulloka Sonar set fitted to SWAN & TORRENS (late fit) and FFG's 05/06
VDS (AN/SQS-503 ??) Variable Depth Sonar - fitted to STUART.  Basically a sonar dome which was towed behind the ship and able to be "steered" down to the required depth to overcome the "layering" effect of the temperature layers in the water.  The VDS was removed in 1967.
AN/SQS-23 Search sonar fitted to DDG's
AN/SQS-56 Sonar fitted to FFG's 01-04
Spherion B hull-mounted sonar Fitted to the ANZAC class FFH's  -  from Thales Underwater Systems Pacific
Petrel Mine and obstacle avoidance sonar fitted to the ANZAC class FFH's  -  from Thales
Echo sounders To check water depth under the keel, including type 765 & AN/UQN-4
Gyro Compasses Used for navigation, includes AP1005, AP2005, AP5005, Mk19, Mk23 and WSN-2.  These compasses were individually fitted to just about all RAN ships
Pittometer & Chernikeff Logs Ship's "odometer", continually measuring distance travelled
EM Log Electromagnetic Log - replaced the Pittometer - used on most RAN ships post DDG's
ARL plotting tables Used in the Operations room of all ships for navigation and weapons firing missions
MRSC Weapons computer fitted with the 903 radar on the type 12's & DUCHESS as part of the MRS3 (Medium Range System Mk3)
FlyPlane predictor Weapons computer fitted on the earlier RAN ships (Battle class & Darings)
Mk49 Ship Inertial Navigation System on the FFG's
Mk47 computer system The original main Gunnery computer on the DDG's - a large analogue computer system
Mk116 computer system Attached to the Mk47 computer and used for Starshell Gunnery on the DDG's
Mk118 computer system Fitted on the DDG's for the Tartar missile system (analogue)
Mk152 computer system Digital replacement for the Mk118 above (about 1976)
Mk74 Mods 4/5/8 fire control system Tartar missile fire control system
Mk41 VLS computer system The vertical launch system fitted on the ANZAC class FFH's and soon to be retrofitted to some FFG's as part of an upgrade program
SGSI Stabilised Glide Slope Indicator used as a flight aid by HELO's on the FFG's and FFH's when landing
Saab 9LV453 C2/FCS Command & Control (C2) and Integrated Fire Control System fitted to the FFH ANZAC class
Ikara computer system & Attack Console A torpedo carrying Australian designed anti-submarine missile fitted on DDG's and type 12's  Removed from RAN service in the late 80's / early 90's

 

WEAPONS AND LAUNCHERS  -  OA's, SAP's and later, "W" rates

EQUIPMENT PURPOSE
76mm Mk75 gun Italian manufactured gun fitted to the FFG's
4" gun Fitted to some of the early ships (Q class frigates)
4.5" gun Twin mount fitted on many RAN ships up to the type 12's
5"/54 calibre gun Two Mk42 5"/54 double-hoist mounts fitted on DDG's and one Mk45 5"/54 automatic single-hoist mount fitted on the ANZAC class FFH's
CRBFD Close Range Blind Fire Director - the gunnery / missile director fitted to the Q Class and Darings with the 262 radar
MRS3 Medium Range System Mk3 - the overall fire control system fitted to ships with fire control radar type 903 (Type 12's and DUCHESS)
GWS20 Visual guidance system on the Type 12's as guidance for the Seacat missile.  SWAN & TORRENS had the GWS20 replaced by the M44 radar
Torpedos A number of different models, including Mk44 & Mk46 torpedoes and the Mk32 tubes, fitted to many RAN ships such as the DDG's, FFG's, Tribals, Darings & FFH's
SLTS Surface Launched Torpedo System is now being fitted to the ANZAC class.  It is capable of firing the older Mk46 torpedo as well as the soon to be Lightweight Torpedo, the MU90
Mk13 missile launcher Fitted on the DDG's & FFG's
Mk41 VLS The vertical launch system fitted on the ANZAC class FFH's and soon to be retrofitted to some FFG's as part of the upgrade program
Ikara launcher A torpedo carrying Australian designed anti-submarine missile fitted on DDG's and type 12's  Ikara was removed from RAN service in the late 80's / early 90's
40/60 Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft gun fitted on many of the earlier RAN ships
AS Mortar Mk 10 Anti-submarine mortars fitted in a number of ships before Ikara came along

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