Introduction to Naval Operations

Course Outline

At a time when the Australian Defence Force is moving to a fifth generation of technological capability and Australia is embarking upon a massive naval shipbuilding program as part of that evolution, the need in government, industry, academia and the media to understand the way that maritime warfare works has never been greater. Yet the basic concepts are often opaque to outsiders, with even the simplest elements often surrounded by a mass of jargon and acronyms.

This one-day course is designed to provide a first introduction to the way in which navies conduct warfare at sea by providing clear and simple explanations of how navies operate in high and low intensity conflicts.

After starting with expositions of the roles and functions of navies and the way in which naval forces are structured, the course will explain the influence of the environment above and below the water on sensors and weapons. It will set out the inherent capabilities and limitations of surface, underwater and airborne platforms and show how they interact. It will cover emergent technologies and show the way in which warfare at sea will change as a result of their influence.

The formal lectures will be followed by an interactive ‘tactical floor’, during which the course will be led through a multi-dimensional maritime operation. This ‘directed war game’ will consolidate the learnings from the earlier presentations by giving a practical insight into the way in which war at sea is conducted, showing both its opportunities and its risks.

Learning outcomes: By the end of the day, course members should possess a basic understanding of naval operations and the tools to seek further knowledge of this complex, but critical subject.

Duration: 0900 to 1700

Delivery mode: face-to-face

Locations: Australian Defence Force Academy; or

In-house delivery: Contact the Professional Education Course Unit for more information

What you will receive:

  • Comprehensive set of course notes
  • UNSW certificate of attendance
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Further information:

School of Humanities and Social Sciences



Who should attend

Public servants, academics, journalists and political staffers concerned with defence and security affairs. It will provide attendees with no previous experience of naval or maritime affairs with an understanding of the basic concepts of naval operations and of the building blocks of naval capability.

Presenter information

The presenters are all highly experienced naval officers with extensive operational and command time, both at individual ship and at higher levels. All have a background in teaching naval warfare. They will be drawn from the UNSW Canberra Conflict + Security Naval Studies Group, and may include:

  • Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit AM RAN (Retd), Visiting Fellow
  • Adjunct Professor James Goldrick AO CSC, Visiting Fellow
  • Vice Admiral Peter Jones AO DSC RAN (Retd), Visiting Fellow
  • Dr Jack McCaffrie, Visiting Fellow