HMAS Assault

HMAS Assault is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) training centre that was in use during World War II, located at Nelson Bay in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, Australia.

HMAS Assault
Nelson Bay, New South Wales in Australia
HMAS Assault (304848)
Troops and landing craft crews training at HMAS Assault during World War II
HMAS Assault is located in New South Wales
HMAS Assault
HMAS Assault
Location in New South Wales
Coordinates32°42′57″S 152°09′15″E / 32.715701°S 152.154101°ECoordinates: 32°42′57″S 152°09′15″E / 32.715701°S 152.154101°E
TypeTraining centre
Site information
OwnerPort Stephens Society of the Arts
Site history
BuiltSeptember 1942
In use1 September 1942 – April 1945

Formation and history

In June 1942, Royal Navy Commander F. N. Cook, the former commander of the Combined Operations Centre – HMS Tormenter – who was on loan to the RAN to help establish an Australian combined operations school, identified Port Stephens as the ideal location to establish a RAN training base for amphibious landings.[1]:118–9 On 9 August, General Douglas MacArthur ordered the establishment of the Joint Overseas Operational Training School (JOOTS) at Port Stephens.[1]:121 While the base was under construction, HMAS Westralia was assigned to the area as an accommodation ship, with HMAS Ping Wo serving as a tender.[1]:121

The stone frigate HMAS Assault was commissioned on 1 September 1942; Assault was initially operated from Westralia, but moved ashore on 10 December 1942.[1]:121[2] The base's main purpose was to train boat crews for landing craft, beach commandos to prepare beaches and co-ordinate landings on the shore, and signals sections to facilitate communications between ships and land-based forces.[1]:121[2] Training at Assault was initially hampered by the lack of LCVP and LCM craft available, with the base forced to use folding boats towed by launches and lighters to simulate landing craft, and HMAS Koopa, a requisitioned pleasure boat, as an assault transport.[1]:121 By March 1943, enough landing craft had been manufactured in Australia and delivered from the United States to allow for full-scale landing exercises.[1]:121 For administrative purposes, landing and shore personnel trained at Assault were considered to be attached to the base, not the ships that they were embarked in.[1]:124–5

The Naval Training Center at Assault was used to train landing craft crews, beach parties and signal teams. Between September 1942 and October 1943 the following Naval personnel were trained at HMAS Assault:[3]

  • 100 officers
  • 100 coxswains
  • 120 beach commanders
  • 453 boat crews
  • 250 stokers
  • 40 signalmen

The JOOTS section of Assault was closed on 1 October 1943, with all joint amphibious warfare training consolidated at the Army facility at Toorbul Point, Queensland.[1]:123 The RAN continued training its own boat and beach crews at Assault until August 1944,[1]:123 when the base was decommissioned and reduced to a caretaker establishment.[1]:123 In April 1945, the base was given to the Royal Navy,[1]:123 who used it as a Commando Depot for the Royal Marines units attached to the British Pacific Fleet.

Assault's sickbay was used as migrant accommodation from 1949 to 1953. It was opened as a small hospital in 1956, then closed in 1981. On 10 August 1981 the buildings were handed over to the Port Stephens Society of the Arts[3] and are now used as the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mallett, Ross (2007). "Together Again for the First Time: The Army, the RAN and Amphibious Warfare 1942–1945". In Stevens, David; Reeve, John (eds.). Sea Power ashore and in the air. Ultimo, NSW: Halstead Press. ISBN 9781920831455. OCLC 271328006.
  2. ^ a b Djokovic, Petar. "RAN Beach Commandos". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b "HMAS Assault, RAN Shore Establishment, Port Stephens, NSW – During WW2". Oz at War. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Centre History". Port Stephens Community Arts Centre. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
F. N. Cook

Frederick Norton Cook DSC (20 February 1905 – 1 August 1985), usually known as F. N. Cook was an officer of the Royal Australian Navy. Cook came to be regarded as an expert in the deployment of landing craft, following his experience with them in both the North West European theatre and the Pacific theatre. Cook achieved the rank of Captain.

Cook was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as a result of his commanding landing craft in the Raid on Bruneval, in German-occupied France, during 1942. As a result of his success at Bruneval, Cook was recalled to Australia to command the Amphibious Training Centre at HMAS Assault (Port Stephens).

HMAS Carpentaria

HMAS Carpentaria is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base that was located on Thursday Island, part of the Torres Strait Islands in Queensland, Australia. As of May 1945, three of the twenty Australian Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) personnel were located at Carpentaria.

HMAS Coonawarra

HMAS Coonawarra is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Darwin, Northern Territory, and is home to twelve fleet units of the RAN. The current commander is Commander Darren Rushworth, RAN.

HMAS Gilolo

HMAS Gilolo is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) shore naval base on Gililo (now Halmahera), in the Maluku Islands, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

HMAS Huon (naval base)

HMAS Huon is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, in operation from 1911 to 1994.

HMAS Kuranda

HMAS Kuranda is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Cairns, Queensland in Australia that was is in used during the Pacific War of World War II.

HMAS Ladava (naval base)

HMAS Ladava is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base that was located at Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea.

HMAS Lusair

HMAS Lusair is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located at Torokina, on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea.

HMAS Madang (naval base)

HMAS Madang is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located at Madang in Papua New Guinea.

HMAS Magnetic

HMAS Magnetic is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

HMAS Mindari

HMAS Mindari is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) gunnery instruction centre located on Cowper Wharf Road in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, that was in operation during World War II.

HMAS Nirimba

HMAS Nirimba is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) training base located at the former RAAF Station Schofields at Schofields, a suburb of Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia.

HMAS Rushcutter (naval base)

HMAS Rushcutter is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base that served as a depot, radar and anti-submarine training school located at Rushcutters Bay and Darling Point, in Sydney's eastern suburbs in New South Wales, Australia.

HMAS Waratah

HMAS Waratah is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) naval administrative centre located in Washington, D.C., United States of America. The centre was operational between 1966 and 1980.

List of Royal Australian Navy bases

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

Lombrum Naval Base

Lombrum Naval Base or HMPNGS Tarangau is a naval military base operated by the Maritime Operations Element of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). It is located on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Lombrum is the home port of the PNGDF's Pacific-class patrol boat force.The Manus Regional Processing Centre was established at Lombrum in 2001.

Port Stephens (New South Wales)

Port Stephens, an open youthful tide dominated drowned valley estuary, is a large natural harbour of approximately 134 square kilometres (52 sq mi) located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia.Port Stephens lies within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park and is situated about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north-east of Sydney. The harbour lies wholly within the local government area of Port Stephens; although its northern shoreline forms the boundary between the Port Stephens and Mid-Coast local government areas.According to the 2006 Census, more than 26,000 people lived within 3 km (1.9 mi) of its 113 km (70 mi) long shoreline and more than 32,000 lived within 10 km (6 mi).

Royal Australian Navy Beach Commandos

During World War II the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) formed beach commando units to go ashore with the first wave of amphibious assaults. They would conduct local reconnaissance, signpost the beaches, control boat traffic, and communicate with the maritime forces. These were known as Royal Australian Navy Beach Commandos. They took part in the Borneo campaign.

Swinger Bay

Swinger Bay, is a bay on the north west shore of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Named by John Moresby after HMS Swinger. It is also known as Stringer Bay.Swinger Bay was selected as a site for an amphibious training centre in 1943 during World War II, which relocated from HMAS Assault, Port Stephens, Australia. Construction started in late 1943 by a detachment of the 91st Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees), whose main element had arrived 21 October 1943 from Port Hueneme, California in Sea Witch. The detachment built facilities, on a site noted as being high and relatively dry, for about 800 men and 30 officers that included storage, shops, housing, roads, water and electrical systems and a 350 feet (106.7 m) jetty to water of 12 feet (3.7 m) depth. The 91st was relieved by 105th Naval Construction Battalion in January 1944.

The amphibious training centre consisted of housing for 1,500 men in quonset huts and developed 2,000 feet (610 m) of waterfront for training purposes.

In March 1945, the amphibious training centre closed and relocated to Subic Bay, Philippines.

Current bases
Former bases
Significant places and items of interest in the Hunter Region of New South Wales

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