HMAS Creswell is located on the south-western shores of Jervis Bay in the Jervis Bay Territory, 180 kilometres south of Sydney. As part of a large national park and in recognition of its historical significance, Creswell was placed on the Australian Heritage Commission's National Estate register in 1981. Creswell consists of the Royal Australian Naval College and four other departments. The School of Survivability and Ship's Safety teaches fire fighting, damage control and nuclear, biological and chemical defence. The Beecroft Weapons Range across the peninsula offers targets for Naval Gunfire Support practice. The fourth department provides administrative support for all sections operating out of Creswell.
The Commanding Officer of Creswell is the Superintendent of Naval Waters for Jervis Bay, and also Lead Authority for Navy's leadership, management and initial entry training around Australia. Besides Creswell, this training is also conducted at the Initial Training Faculty (HMAS Cerberus), and the Leadership Management Schools at Training Centres East and West (Sydney and Western Australia).
Parliament selected the site of Captain's Point, Jervis Bay, for the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC) in November 1911. This site is the cradle of our Navy. Construction of the main college buildings was completed in 1915 and the first two entries of cadet midshipmen moved from the temporary college at Geelong in February 1915. The first graduation in 1916 included Midshipmen Collins and Farncomb, both of whom later gained flag rank.
Funding cuts driven by the Great Depression forced the closure of the college in 1930, which then relocated to Flinders Naval Depot (HMAS Cerberus). The buildings were leased as hotels and guesthouses, although Navy retained use of the waterfront and some married quarters. From 1944 to 1946 the RAAF 2nd Military Rehabilitation Unit was housed in some of the college buildings.
From the early 1950s it became clear that Flinders Naval Depot was becoming overcrowded and in 1956, the government decided to return the RANC to its original site. This was achieved in January 1958 and the site was commissioned as HMAS Creswell, after VADM Sir William Creswell, KCMG, KBE, the First Naval Member of the Naval Board (Chief of Navy) from 1911 to 1919.
In 1987, the Staff Training School was established at HMAS Creswell. Now known as the Management and Strategic Studies Faculty (MSSF) delivered courses include Officer Leadership and Promotion Courses, Warrant Officer Promotion Course and Chief Petty Officer Promotion Course.
In 1993, the RAN School of Survivability and Ship's Safety was relocated to Jervis Bay and HMAS Creswell became the lead establishment for firefighting, damage control, and nuclear, biological and chemical defence training.