Wartime demands lead to a need to recruit women directly into the RAN. At its wartime peak the RANNS was made up of 56 nursing sisters working in RAN hospitals across Australia, as well as at Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea.
Nurses entering the RANNS were registered with at least 12 months of nursing experience. They undertookfamiliarisation at the RAN Medical Training School at HMAS Cerberus. Upon completion of training they were initially posted to billets in RAN Hospitals in either HMAS Penguin in Sydney, or Cerberus in Victoria.
The RANNS was disbanded 1948 but the demand for nurses was so great that the organisation was reformed in November 1964.
In June 1984, the Naval Forces (Women's Services) Regulations were repealed, and the designation RANNS was abolished, leading to the nurses being incorporated within the Nursing Branch of the RAN.
By this stage, qualified nurses wanting to join the RAN as nursing officers were enlisted with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant on probation, whilst undergoing training as Officers at HMAS Creswell.