Fleet Base East

The Fleet Base East is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) major fleet base that comprises several naval establishments and facilities clustered around Sydney Harbour, centred on HMAS Kuttabul. The Fleet Base East extends beyond the borders of Kuttabul and includes the commercially-operated dockyard at Garden Island, and adjacent wharf facilities at nearby Woolloomooloo, east of the Sydney central business district in New South Wales, Australia.[1] Fleet Base East is one of two major facilities of the RAN, the other facility being the Fleet Base West.

Confusingly, naval personnel often use the term Fleet Base East to mean the naval wharves at Garden Island where ships assigned to the Fleet Base usually berth but the official designation includes several other bases and facilities as well.

Fleet Base East
Part of  Royal Australian Navy
Near Sydney, New South Wales in Australia
Garden Island from Sydney Tower
Garden Island, a major part of Fleet Base East
Fleet Base East is located in Sydney
Fleet Base East
Fleet Base East
Location in Greater Sydney
Coordinates33°51′50″S 151°13′31″E / 33.86389°S 151.22528°ECoordinates: 33°51′50″S 151°13′31″E / 33.86389°S 151.22528°E
TypeMajor fleet base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence
Operator Royal Navy (1788–1911);
 Royal Australian Navy (1911–1967);
 Royal Australian Navy (1967 – present)
Constituent bases and facilities
Site history
In useVarious bases and units (1788 - 1987)
Fleet Base East (1987 – present)


Sydney was the centre of naval activity in Australia from the arrival of Europeans in 1788. Over the course of the 19th century the Royal Navy developed facilities around Sydney Harbour, most notably at Garden Island. Those facilities passed to the newly formed Royal Australian Navy in 1911 and Sydney became home port to the Australian Fleet. During World War II there was significant expansion of the naval facilities around Sydney Harbour, including a large expansion of the dockyards at Garden Island. After World War II, Australia began to have growing interests in the Indian Ocean areas to the west of Australia and the need for a major base on the west coast of the continent was identified. This resulted in the eventual construction during the 1970s of HMAS Stirling, near Perth in Western Australia. In 1987 the decision was taken to permanently split the basing of the Australian Fleet. The collection of facilities and bases on Sydney Harbour was designated Fleet Base East while Stirling was designated Fleet Base West.[1]

Thales Australia has successfully operated at the Garden Island dockyards since the early 1980s and in 2014 signed a further five-year contract with the Department of Defence to provide ongoing dock operations and services, as well as ship repair and maintenance services at Garden Island.[2]

During the 2013 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd proposed that under a Labor government, the Sydney-based facilities of Fleet Base East would be relocated further north, with options of Queensland and the Northern Territory suggested.[3][4][5][6] However, by 2017 and following the release of the 2016 Defence White Paper, an A$213 million upgrade of the Garden Island dockyards were proposed. However, the white paper also stated that they are planning to come up with a long-term solution to space constraints at HMAS Kuttabul.[7]

Constituent bases and facilities

Fleet Base East is home to more than sixty per cent of Australia’s surface fleet[7] and comprises:

  • HMAS Kuttabul  – the shore establishment that provides administrative, logistical, training and accommodation support to Fleet Base East. It is located in Potts Point, immediately adjacent to Garden Island. It also supports naval personnel assigned to other duties throughout the greater Sydney region.
  • Garden Island  – the largest historic naval area on Sydney Harbour, with use going back to the founding of the colony in 1788. Greatly expanded during World War II, it now comprises major dockyard facilities run by a civilian operator, the naval wharves used by major fleet units of the RAN, various training facilities under the control of HMAS Kuttabul and a heritage precinct, open to the public, that includes the official museum of the Royal Australian Navy.
  • HMAS Waterhen  – a smaller base on another part of Sydney Harbour. It is home to the RAN Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group and has berthing facilities for the RAN's coastal mine hunting ships and other smaller vessels.

Former constituent bases

HMAS Platypus, located in Neutral Bay on the northern side of Sydney Harbour, was the home base for the Royal Australian Navy Submarine Service and its fleet of six Oberon class submarines from 1967. It closed in 1999 when the submarine fleet moved to Fleet Base West to coincide with the introduction of new Collins class submarines.

HMAS Rushcutter was a small base at Rushcutters Bay, on the southern side of Sydney Harbour. Used for a variety of training and small boat operations, it closed in 1979.

Ships stationed

The following vessels are stationed at Fleet Base East:[8][9]

Canberra-class landing helicopter dock

Anzac-class frigate

Adelaide-class frigate

Hobart-class destroyer

  • NUSHIP Sydney

Huon-class minehunters (at Waterhen)

Bay-class landing ship

Offshore support vessel

Sail training (at Waterhen)

See also


  1. ^ a b "Fleet Base East". Royal Australian Navy. Department of Defence. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Thales to continue operating Sydney's Garden Island" (Press release). Thales Australia. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  3. ^ Wroe, David (27 August 2013). "Garden Island naval base faces closure under Kevin Rudd". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  4. ^ "As it happened: Kevin Rudd's plans for Navy spark war of words with Barry O'Farrell". ABC News. Australia. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  5. ^ Davies, Andrew (27 August 2013). "Challenges for Mr Rudd's northern naval posture". The Strategist. Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  6. ^ Bateman, Sam (28 August 2013). "The RAN must have a plan to move out of Garden Island". The Strategist. Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b Hartigan, Brian (8 March 2017). "Major upgrade for Garden Island". Contact. Australia: Contact Publishing Pty Ltd. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  8. ^ Navy, corporateName=Royal Australian. "Fleet Base East". www.navy.gov.au. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  9. ^ Navy, corporateName=Royal Australian. "HMAS Waterhen". www.navy.gov.au. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
Canberra-class landing helicopter dock

The Canberra class is a ship class of two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Planning to upgrade the navy's amphibious fleet began in 2000, based on Australian experiences leading the International Force for East Timor peacekeeping operation. With a new climate for growing Australian Navy spending, a desire existed for forward defence capability for landing and supporting troops on Asian territory, that had never existed in Australian history, even with the old Majestic-class light fleet carriers, HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney in the 1970s. In 2004, French company Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and Spanish company Navantia were invited to tender proposals, with DCN offering the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship and Navantia proposing the "Buque de Proyección Estratégica" design (later commissioned as Juan Carlos I). The Spanish design was selected in 2007, with Navantia responsible for construction of the ships from the keel to the flight deck, and BAE Systems Australia handling the fabrication of the superstructure and fitting out.

Construction of the first ship, HMAS Canberra, commenced in late 2008, with the hull launched in early 2011, and sea trials in early 2014. Canberra was commissioned in November 2014. Work on the second vessel, HMAS Adelaide, started in early 2010. Adelaide was commissioned in December 2015. They are the largest vessels ever operated by the RAN, with a displacement of 27,500 tonnes (27,100 long tons; 30,300 short tons).

The ships are home-ported at Fleet Base East in Sydney (which has prompted complaints from nearby residents about machinery noise, exhaust fumes, and blocked views) and will regularly operate out of Townsville, the location of Lavarack Barracks, home of the Australian Army's 3rd Brigade. In addition to being located in North Queensland close to Asia and the Pacific Islands, one of the 3rd Brigade's infantry battalions, the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR), was selected to become the Army's specialist amphibious infantry battalion.

Garden Island (New South Wales)

Garden Island is an inner-city locality of Sydney, Australia, and the location of a major Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base. It is located to the north-east of the Sydney central business district and juts out into Port Jackson, immediately to the north of the suburb of Potts Point. Used for government and naval purposes since the earliest days of the colony of Sydney, it was originally a completely-detached island but was joined to the Potts Point shoreline by major land reclamation work during World War II.

Garden Island today forms a major part of the RAN's Fleet Base East. It includes active dockyards (including the Captain Cook Graving Dock), naval wharves and a naval heritage and museum precinct. Approximately half of the major fleet units of the RAN use the wharves as their home port.

The northern tip of Garden Island is open to the public and contains the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre museum and an outdoor heritage precinct. Immediately south and above Garden Island on the Potts Point ridgeline is HMAS Kuttabul, the RAN's major administrative, training and logistics support establishment for the Sydney area. Although HMAS Kuttabul is administratively a separate facility to Garden Island, the two names are often referred to interchangeably.

Garden Island Naval Chapel

The Garden Island Naval Chapel is a heritage-listed non-denominational Christian chapel located in the heritage-listed Garden Island Naval Precinct that comprises a naval base and dockyard in the inner eastern Sydney suburb of Garden Island in the City of Sydney local government area of New South Wales, Australia. Housed in a building designed by James Barnet and built between built 1886 and 1887, the chapel was established in 1902 after conversion from the former sail loft and is the oldest Christian chapel of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and has stained glass windows and plaques from that era to the present. The chapel was added to the Commonwealth Heritage List on 22 June 2004 and the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 12 November 2004.The building is the oldest on Garden Island, two-storey, built of stuccoed brick with stone sills, arches and columns. The original loft floor of timber remains, caulked with oakum and bitumen.

HMAS Adelaide (L01)

HMAS Adelaide (L01) is the second of two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship started at Navantia's Spanish shipyard with steel-cutting in February 2010. The ship was laid down in February 2011, and launched on 4 July 2012. Delivery to Australia for fitting out at BAE Systems Australia's facilities in Victoria was scheduled for 2013, but did not occur until early 2014. Despite construction delays and predictions the ship was commissioned in December 2015.

HMAS Anzac (FFH 150)

HMAS Anzac (FFH 150) is the lead ship of the Anzac-class frigates in use with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Entering Australian service in 1996, the frigate operated as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce in 1999. In 2003, she was involved in the Battle of Al Faw, and became the first RAN ship to fire in anger since the Vietnam War. The ship is operational as of 2018.

HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155)

HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) is an Anzac-class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The frigate was laid down in 2000 and commissioned into the RAN in mid-2004. Since entering service, Ballarat has been involved in border protection as part of Operation Relex II, was deployed to the Gulf for Operation Catalyst, and was one of the two ships involved in the Operation Northern Trident 2009 round-the-world voyage. Ballarat has undergone the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade, completing in 2015.

HMAS Canberra (L02)

HMAS Canberra (L02) is the lead ship of the Canberra-class landing helicopter dock in service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). It is the current flagship of the RAN fleet. Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011. The hull was then transported to Australia in late 2012 for completion by BAE Systems Australia. Canberra was commissioned on 28 November 2014.

HMAS Kuttabul (naval base)

HMAS Kuttabul is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Potts Point in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Kuttabul provides administrative, training, logistics and accommodation support to naval personnel assigned to the various facilities that form Fleet Base East, the main operational navy base on the east coast of Australia. A part of Fleet Base East itself, Kuttabul occupies several buildings in the Sydney suburb of Potts Point and in the immediately adjacent Garden Island dockyard. It also supports navy personnel posted to other locations throughout the greater Sydney region.The base is named for the steam ferry HMAS Kuttabul that was sunk while docked at Garden Island during a Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942.

HMAS Manoora (L 52)

HMAS Manoora (L 52) was a Kanimbla-class landing platform amphibious ship operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Originally built for the United States Navy (USN) as the Newport-class tank landing ship USS Fairfax County (LST-1193), the ship was decommissioned in 1994 and sold to the RAN.

Although commissioned into Australian service in that year, the vessel was heavily modified from her original design, and did not begin operations until the end of the decade. During her Australian career, Manoora saw wartime service during the War in Afghanistan, and non-combat service in the Solomon Islands and East Timor. In 2001, the ship was involved in the Tampa affair, a diplomatic incident involving a Norwegian cargo ship and a group of asylum seekers.

In late 2010, Manoora and sister ship Kanimbla were placed in an 'operational pause' after several problems were identified with the ships. In early 2011, it was announced that repairing Manoora was cost-prohibitive, and she was decommissioned on 27 May 2011. The ship was sold for breaking in 2013.

HMAS Penguin (naval base)

HMAS Penguin is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located at Balmoral on the lower north shore of Sydney Harbour in the suburb of Mosman, New South Wales. Penguin is one of the RAN's primary training establishments, with a responsibility for providing trained specialists for all areas of the navy. The current commander of Penguin is Commander Mathew Bradley, RAN.

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03)

HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) was an Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The frigate was one of six modified Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates ordered from 1977 onwards, and the third of four to be constructed in the United States of America. Laid down and launched in 1980, Sydney was named for the capital city of New South Wales, and commissioned into the RAN in 1983.

During her operational history, Sydney has been involved in Australian responses to the 1987 Fijian coups d'état and the Bougainville uprising. The frigate was deployed to the Persian Gulf on five occasions in support of United States operations during the Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and has completed two round-the-world voyages.

Sydney was originally expected to remain in service until 2013, but was retained in service until 2015; ceasing active deployments on 27 February and serving as a moored training ship until her decommissioning on 7 November. The frigate will be replaced in service by a Hobart-class destroyer.

HMAS Waterhen (naval base)

HMAS Waterhen is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Waverton on Sydney's lower north shore in New South Wales, Australia. Constructed on the site of a quarry used to expand Garden Island in the 1930s, the location was used during World War II as a boom net maintenance and storage area. In 1962, the area was commissioned as a base of the RAN, and became home to the RAN's mine warfare forces. Waterhen was the first small-ship base established by the RAN, and from 1969 to 1979 was also responsible for the RAN's patrol boat forces.

HMAS Watson

HMAS Watson is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base on Sydney Harbour at South Head, near Watsons Bay in Sydney, Australia. Commissioned in 1945 (after three years operating as HMAS Radar), the base served as the RAN's radar training school. In 1956, torpedo and anti-submarine warfare training were relocated to the base, and by 2011, Watson was the main maritime warfare training base, as well as providing post-entry education for maritime warfare officers, training for combat system and electronic warfare sailors, and command training.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Harry's Cafe de Wheels is an iconic pie cart located in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on Cowper Wharf Road, near the Finger Wharf and Fleet Base East of Garden Island Navy Base, opposite the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel.

They are best known for their dish "Tiger Pie", a type of Australian meat pie named after the original founder of Harry's.

Other Harry's Cafe de Wheels operate in Burwood, Campbelltown, Capitol Square, Haymarket, George Street, Liverpool, Newcastle (using a converted Sydney R-Class Tram), North Parramatta, Penrith and Tempe.

Illowra Battery

Illowra Battery is a former Australian Army coastal-artillery battery located at Hill 60, Port Kembla, New South Wales in Australia, built and in service during World War II. It was also otherwise known as Hill 60 Battery.

Kanimbla-class landing platform amphibious

The Kanimbla class was a class of amphibious transport ships (designated Landing Platform Amphibious) operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Two ships (originally built as Newport-class tank landing ships for the United States Navy) were purchased by Australia in 1994 and modified. Problems during the handover process and the need to repair previously unidentified defects meant the ships did not enter operational service until the end of the decade.

Between them, the two ships have deployed to the Solomon Islands in 2000–01, Vanuatu in 2001, and participated in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Australian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Australian deployment to East Timor following the 2006 political crisis, and Operation Quickstep off Fiji.

After a large number of defects were found in both ships during late 2010, the vessels were docked. It was decided that Manoora was beyond economic repair, and she was decommissioned in May 2011. Kanimbla was to be repaired and returned to service, but the estimated cost and time to do this, plus the successful acquisition of the British landing ship dock RFA Largs Bay as an interim capability replacement, prompted the government to decommission Kanimbla in November 2011. Both ships were sold in 2013 and broken up for scrap.

List of Royal Australian Navy bases

The following is a list of current and former commissioned bases used by the Royal Australian Navy.

List of active Royal Australian Navy ships

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) fleet is made up of 50 commissioned warships as of October 2018.

The main strength is the ten frigates and two destroyers of the surface combatant force: eight Anzac class frigates, two Adelaide class frigates, and two Hobart class destroyers. Six Collins-class boats make up the submarine service, although due to the maintenance cycle not all submarines are active at any time. The issues have now been fixed and five submarines are available for service. Amphibious warfare assets include two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships and the landing ship HMAS Choules. Thirteen Armidale-class patrol boats perform coastal and economic exclusion zone patrols, and four Huon-class vessels are used for minehunting and clearance (another two are commissioned but in reserve since October 2011). Replenishment at sea is provided by the Sirius, while the two Leeuwin-class and four Paluma-class vessels perform survey and charting duties.

In addition to the commissioned warships, the RAN operates the sail training ship Young Endeavour and two Cape-class patrol boats acquired from the Australian Border Force. Other auxiliaries and small craft are not operated by the RAN, but by DMS Maritime, who are contracted to provide support services.The lion's share of the RAN fleet is divided between Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul, in Sydney) and Fleet Base West (HMAS Stirling, near Perth). Mine warfare assets are located at HMAS Waterhen (also in Sydney), while HMAS Cairns in Cairns and HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin host the navy's patrol and survey vessels.

STS Young Endeavour

STS Young Endeavour is an Australian tall ship. Built by Brooke Marine (which became Brooke Yachts during the vessel's construction), Young Endeavour was given to Australia by the British government in 1988, as a gift to celebrate Australian Bicentenary. Although operated and maintained by the Royal Australian Navy, Young Endeavour delivers up to twenty youth development sail training voyages to young Australians aged 16 - 23 each year. Navy personnel staff the ship and the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme coordinate the voyage program.

During each voyage the ship embarks up to 24 young Australians who learn the skills required to sail a square-rigged tall ship; including how to navigate, keep watch, cook in the galley, take the helm and climb the 30 metre mast to work aloft, setting and furling sails. They are encouraged to pursue personal and team goals and challenges in an unfamiliar environment as they learn to sail a square-rigged tall ship.

Near the end of the voyage, youth crew elect a command team who take full responsibility for Young Endeavour for 24 hours, sailing the ship along the Australian coast. On their last day at sea, the youth crew host a local group of youth with special needs, sharing their new found knowledge and experience.

Current bases
Former bases

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