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 Coonawarra
Darwin, Northern Territory in Australia
HMAS Coonawarra
Ship's badge of HMAS Coonawarra
HMAS Coonawarra is located in Northern Territory
HMAS Coonawarra
HMAS Coonawarra
Location in the Northern Territory
Coordinates12°27′31″S 130°49′18″E / 12.45861°S 130.82167°ECoordinates: 12°27′31″S 130°49′18″E / 12.45861°S 130.82167°E
TypeNaval base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence
Operator Royal Australian Navy (1935 – 1967)
 Royal Australian Navy (1967 – present)
Site history
In use1935 – current
Garrison information
Commander Viktor Pilicic, RAN


During World War I, Port Darwin had been used as a coaling station for naval ships, but it was not considered a naval base. Later, during the 1930s, the RAN constructed oil fuel tanks on the harbour front, holding about 82,000 tonnes (90,000 short tons) of oil. All were destroyed in the Japanese attack on Darwin on 19 February 1942.[1]

The first naval depot at Darwin was established in January 1935. This was a naval reserve depot, commanded by Lieutenant Commander H.P. Jarrett. At this time, Darwin was part of the Naval Reserve District of Queensland. In 1937, the Naval District of the Northern Territory was separated from the Queensland District, and the first District Naval Officer, Lieutenant Commander J.H. Walker, was appointed. In 1939, under the recommendation of the Committee of Imperial Defence, a high-powered radio transmitter was constructed. The period leading up to World War II saw a buildup of personnel, the establishment of fuelling facilities, a boom depot and later the Navy paid for improvements to Darwin's water supply in order to provide an adequate supply of water for visiting naval ships.[1]

At the outbreak of World War II, the Naval depot in Darwin was named HMAS Penguin, and on 1 August 1940 was formally commissioned as HMAS Melville. Throughout World War II, the Wireless Transmitting Station provided essential communications service in support of Allied Operations in the South West Pacific regions. The base suffered significant damage during the Japanese bombing raids on the city.[1]

Attack-class patrol boats at Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin March 1975 (after Cyclone Tracy).

After World War II, the base continued to be known as HMAS Melville. The development of Darwin during the 1950s and 1960s saw the size of Melville shrink, the problem was intensified by the continued growth of naval personnel in Darwin. It was decided to decommission Melville and relocate the RAN's Darwin base to naval Wireless Transmitting Station Coonawarra. Although the base was transferred over and commissioned at HMAS Coonawarra on 16 March 1970, facilities at Melville remained operational until their destruction by Cyclone Tracy on 25 December 1974.[1]

On 30 November 2012, fourteen firearms were stolen from an Armidale-class patrol boat moored at the base.[2][3] The weapons were recovered the next day.[2]

Facilities and operational units

The wharf can accommodate six vessels, berthed three abreast. Services such as fuel, electrical power, compressed air, sewerage out, oily waste suction, and defuelling is available at the berthing points. The facility has the capability to dock a vessel with a draught of up to two metres (six point six feet) at any tide, is capable of lifting or lowering a vessel up to 750 tonnes (830 short tons) at a rate of 420 millimetres (17 in) per minute, and is designed to withstand cyclones.

In 2016 the Australian Government announced plans to significantly redevelop Coonawarra as one of northern Australia’s key strategic naval bases. The plans announced projected that the base will support an increased maritime force, including some of the twelve new offshore patrol vessels that will be based in Darwin. An A$1.2 billion injection was expected to commence in 2025.[4]

Ships stationed

Armidale class:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "HMAS Coonawarra". Royal Australian Navy. Australian Government. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Police recover stolen navy weapons". ABC News. Australia. 1 December 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Navy officer assaulted, weapons stolen". The Australian. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  4. ^ Shields, Wayne (25 February 2016). "Defence White Paper: NT economy set for massive boost on the back of spending to match Asia's growing military presence". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 5 August 2017.

External links

Armidale-class patrol boat

The Armidale class is a class of patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Planning for a class of vessels to replace the fifteen Fremantle-class patrol boats began in 1993 as a joint project with the Royal Malaysian Navy, but was cancelled when Malaysia pulled out of the process. The project was reopened in 1999 under the designation SEA 1444, with the RAN as the sole participant. Of the seven proposals tendered, the Austal Ships/Defence Maritime Services (DMS) proposal for twelve vessels based on an enlarged Bay-class patrol boat was selected. Two additional patrol boats were ordered in 2005 to provide a dedicated patrol force for the North West Shelf Venture.

All fourteen vessels were constructed by Austal Ships at Henderson, Western Australia. The first vessel, HMAS Armidale, was commissioned into the RAN in June 2005, and the last, HMAS Glenelg, entered service in February 2008. The Armidale-class ships are operated by the Australian Patrol Boat Group, and based in Cairns and Darwin. They are primarily tasked with border protection, fisheries patrols, and the interception of unauthorised arrivals by sea. The Armidales are longer and heavier than their Fremantle-class predecessors, with improved seakeeping ability and increased range, allowing them to reach Australia's offshore territories. The ships are multi-crewed, with three ship's companies available for every two vessels, allowing the patrol boats to spend more time at sea without cutting into sailors' rest or training time.

During their early service life, there were problems with the fuel systems across the class, and a 20-bunk auxiliary accommodation compartment has been banned from use after toxic fumes were found in the compartment on multiple occasions. The high operational tempo from the Operation Resolute and Operation Sovereign Borders border protection and asylum seeker interception operations, combined with design flaws and poor maintenance, resulted in the ships suffering from hull fracturing around the engineering spaces, mechanical defects, and corrosion issues. DMS's contract to provide in-service support will be terminated in 2017, and the patrol boats are undergoing a major refit in Singapore to reinforce the hull. Two Cape-class patrol boats have been chartered to supplement naval patrol boat availability during the refit cycle, and plans to replace the Armidales with an enlarged class of offshore combatant vessel have been accelerated to bring them into service by the early 2020s.

After extensive damage from an onboard fire, HMAS Bundaberg was decommissioned at the end of 2014. A fictional Armidale-class boat, HMAS Hammersley, appears in the Australian military drama series Sea Patrol from the second season onwards, with filming occurring aboard multiple ships of the class.

Australian Patrol Boat Group

The Australian Patrol Boat Group is a Force Element Group (FEG) of the Royal Australian Navy. The group's mission is to provide patrol boat capability for the protection of Australia's national interests.

The Patrol Boat Group operates thirteen (originally fourteen, HMAS Bundaberg was decommissioned in 2014 due to fire damage) Armidale class patrol boats. The Group's headquarters is located at HMAS Coonawarra in the city of Darwin, additional support is provided by the class logistics office at HMAS Cairns.


Coonawarra may refer to:

Coonawarra wine region, a wine region in South Australia.

Coonawarra, South Australia, the town at the centre of the wine region.

Coonawarra, Northern Territory, an outer suburb of Darwin, Australia.

HMAS Coonawarra, a naval base in Darwin, Australia.

Coonawarra, Northern Territory

Coonawarra is a south-eastern suburb in the city of Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia.Defence Establishment Berrimah and the Northern Immigration Detention Centre are located in Coonawarra.

The suburb's name is derived from HMAS Coonawarra, a naval establishment which was located in the suburb until 2003. 'Coonawarra' itself is an Aboriginal word which means "swan".

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 Dubbo (FCPB 214)

HMAS Dubbo (FCPB 214), named for the city of Dubbo, New South Wales, was a Fremantle class patrol boat of the Royal Australian Navy (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 Glenelg (ACPB 96)

HMAS Glenelg (ACPB 96), named for the city of Glenelg, South Australia is an Armidale-class patrol boat of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

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 Melville (naval base)

HMAS Melville is a former Royal Australia Navy (RAN) shore base located in Darwin, Northern Territory, in Australia. The base was in use between 1935 and 1974.

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.

Larrakeyah Barracks

Larrakeyah Barracks, incorporating HMAS Coonawarra, is the main base for the Australian Defence Force in the Northern Territory of Australia, and occupies the headland west of the suburb of Larrakeyah in the capital, Darwin. It was established in 1932–33, with building commencing in earnest in 1934, although many of the oldest structures were built in the early years of World War II.The name Larrakeyah is a transcription of the name of the Australian Aborigine tribe known also as the Larrakia people, the traditional owners of where Darwin was built and its surrounding areas.

List of Australian military bases

The Australian Defence Force is made up of the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. These three military services have numerous military bases situated in all the States and Territories of Australia. Most of Australian Defence Force bases are equipped with Everyman's Welfare Service recreation centres.

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.

Current bases
Former bases


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