HMAS Harman

HMAS Harman is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base that serves as a communications and logistics facility. The main base is located in the Australian capital of Canberra, and is geographically recognised as the suburb of Harman (postcode 2600). Established in the late 1930s as the Royal Australian Navy Wireless/Transmitting Station Canberra, the facility was commissioned into the RAN as a stone frigate in 1943.[1] In addition to its communications and logistics roles, the base hosts reserve units from both the Australian Army Reserves and Royal Australian Air Force Reserves, as well as cadet units from all three branches of the Australian Defence Force Cadets.

The base is also reported to be a major contributor to the U.S. National Security Agency's XKeyscore surveillance program.[2]

The commander of the base is Commander David Luck, RAN.[3]

HMAS Harman
Harman, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory in Australia
HMAS Harman
HMAS Harman
HMAS Harman
Ship's badge of HMAS Harman
HMAS Harman is located in Australian Capital Territory
HMAS Harman
HMAS Harman
Coordinates35°20′48″S 149°12′4″E / 35.34667°S 149.20111°ECoordinates: 35°20′48″S 149°12′4″E / 35.34667°S 149.20111°E
TypeNaval base
Area2.5 square kilometres (0.97 sq mi)
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence
Site history
In use1943 – present
Garrison information
Commander David Luck, RAN


WRAN (AWM 009233)
A member of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service at HMAS Harman in 1941; the first unit where women served as part of the RAN.

In 1924, the Imperial Defence Committee's Communications Sub-Committee examined Australian coastal radio stations, and recommended the modernisation of the stations at Darwin, Perth, Rabaul, and Townsville. A year later, the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board (ACNB) made a recommendation that two wireless stations be provided for the Navy in Canberra and Darwin. These would be strategic stations in addition to the coastal stations. Canberra was chosen as its distance from the coast would increase its protection from attack. Planning continued in 1935, where a new Canberra station would add to the coverage area of Rugby, and function as a fall back in the event of the destruction of submarine cables, or the Hong Kong or Singapore wireless telegraphy stations. The Australian government decided to build a receiving and a transmitting station in Canberra in 1937, with the transmitting station sited at Ginninderra Creek in Belconnen, approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-west of the main receiving facility.

Construction of the transmission facility (Royal Australian Navy Wireless/Transmitting Station Canberra) commenced in November 1938. The facility established on 20 April 1939 and started transmitting on 22 December 1939. Work on the main facility started in early 1939, with the facility registered with the Postmaster General's Department on 20 July 1939 under the name 'Harman'. The name was derived from the surnames of the two officers responsible for naming the new naval stations: Commander Neville Harvey of the Royal Navy, and RAN Lieutenant Commander Jack Bolton Newman. As the ACNB had paid little attention to the proposals for the names of previous wireless stations before implementing them, the two men proposed their combined names for the Canberra facility, which was accepted without comment.

World War II commenced before the station was completed. Newman was promoted to Commander and assigned to command the Harman facility from when it opened until 1941, when he was replaced as Officer-in-Charge. The station was commissioned into the RAN as the stone frigate HMAS Harman on 1 July 1943. Harman provided radio coverage of the Pacific Ocean during the war, and provided communications intercepts for the FRUMEL signals intelligence unit. Women of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS), formed in 1941, operated the equipment.[4]

Facilities and functions

In addition to its communications role, Harman provides Navy administrative and logistic functions to all Navy personnel located in the Australian Capital Territory and southern New South Wales. The base also includes a tri-service "Multi-User Depot". This depot hosts reserve units from the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force, and cadet units of the Australian Navy Cadets, Australian Army Cadets, and Australian Air Force Cadets.


Initially, the facilities at Harman included Number One Receiving Station, which became the Communications Centre, an aerial farm behind the building, a direction finding hut located 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) away on a ridge, cottages and guard houses. Later, Number Two Receiving station was built for 'special tasks', a recreation hall was opened 27 April 1941, and a mess hall was finished around the end of 1940. In 1943, a second mess was built. The Morgan Dunbar Oval and Sir Victor Smith Oval are located in Harman. There are also tennis courts and a gymnasium. The base covers an area of 2.5 square kilometres (0.97 sq mi). 970 people work at Harman.

Functions performed at Harman include:

  • Defence Communications Area Master Station Australia (DEFCAMSAUS); supporting ADF Communications Elements
  • Defence Communications Station Canberra (DEFCOMMSTA Canberra); provides UHF Military Satellite Communications and HF Radio Communications for the Australian Defence Force
  • Defence Network Operations Centre (DNOC)
  • Two units of the Army Reserve
  • Administrative and Personnel support for Navy Members in the Canberra Region
  • No. 28 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force

On 11 July 2013, ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden revealed documents that alleged Harman, amongst three other locations in Australia and one in New Zealand, were amongst those used in the PRISM surveillance program conducted by various United States intelligence agencies.[5] The Defence Network Operations Centre (DNOC) is the hub of the third largest communications network in Australia after Telstra and Optus. The DNOC provides network support for military operations throughout the Australian Defence Force.[6] During 2012 and 2013 it was reported that the expansion of communication facilities at Harman had resulted in budget cost overruns in excess of the original budget of A$90 million. A revised estimate of A$163 million was projected;[7] together with significantly more data than was originally estimated.[8]

Bonshaw Receiving Station

About 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the main complex was the Bonshaw Receiving Station, in which watchkeepers listened for messages from ships on the high frequency (HF) bands. This area was designated as a radio quiet zone.

Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station

About 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-west of Harman, the Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station was a sub-unit that maintained the corresponding HF and low frequency (LF) transmitting equipment, including the three 600 feet (180 m) masts for the 250 kilowatts (340 hp), 44 hertz (6,800,000 m) transmitter. The station was equipped with 40 kilowatts (54 hp) and 10 kilowatts (13 hp) HF transmitters that used a variety of antennas including rhombic, vertical monopole, and log-periodic antennas. The station was initially built with small cottages flanking the eastern side of the site, housing the electrical engineer-in-charge and the sailors who maintained the transmitters and antennas. These were removed in the late 1980s, although the mess building remained, with personnel moving into housing in the growing suburbs that gradually encroached on the site. The station ended transmissions on 1 June 2005, and the remaining structures on the site were demolished in December 2006 to allow for residential development on the site, forming the new suburb of Lawson.


Harman residents get preference[9] for a shared Priority Enrollment Area (PEA) of Forrest Primary and Red Hill Primary, Telopea Park School for high school, and the Narrabundah College.

See also


  1. ^ Hardwick, Michael (Autumn 2006). "'Stone frigate' – HMAS Harman" (PDF). Sea Talk (Autumn 2006). Royal Australian Navy. pp. 13–19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  2. ^ Dorling, Philip (8 July 2013). "Snowden reveals Australia's links to US spy web". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  3. ^ Navy, corporateName=Royal Australian. "Commander David Luck". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  4. ^ "HMAS Harman". Canberra at War. Australian War Memorial. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Snowden reveals Australia's links to US spy web". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 July 2013.
  6. ^ Waters, Gary; Ball, Desmond; Dudgeon, Ian (2008). "Chapter 6. An Australian Cyber-warfare Centre". Location of a Cyber-warfare Centre. Australian National University. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  7. ^ Dorling, Philip (26 June 2012). "Cost blowout at secret Defence site". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  8. ^ Dorling, Philip (13 June 2013). "Australia gets 'deluge' of US secret data, prompting a new data facility". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Priority Enrolment Areas 2017 by Suburb". Education Directorate. Government of the Australian Capital Territory. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.

Further reading

  • Nelson, Lieutenant Annette (1993). HMAS Harman 1943–2003 – A History of HMAS Harman and its people. DC-DC Publications.

External links

5th Engineer Regiment (Australia)

5th Engineer Regiment is a Reserve unit of the Royal Australian Engineers. Originally raised as the "5th Combat Engineer Regiment" in 1995 from the 4th Field Engineer Regiment, it is based in Holsworthy, Sydney, with one of its sub-units based at the multi-user depot HMAS Harman, in Canberra and another at Orchard Hills in western Sydney. Some of the unit's subunits draw lineage from the 4th and 5th Field Companies, which were raised for service during World War I.In late 2013, the regiment was reorganised, when two sub-units – 101st Construction Squadron and the Littoral and Riverine Survey Squadron – were transferred from the 21st Construction Regiment, following the decision to disband that unit. The regiment subsequently assumed the designation of the "5th Engineer Regiment". The LRSS was transferred to the School of Military Engineering in January 2016, and as of 2017 was being utilised to evaluate several new capabilities as well as running several courses and camps.In November 2017, the regiment subsumed the disbanded 8th Engineer Regiment. This resulted in the transfer of the 6th and 14th Combat Engineer Squadrons, and the 102 Construction Squadron to 5 ER. As a part of this amalgamation, the 14th Combat Engineer Squadron was transferred from 8 ER intact, to be based at Adamstown, while the 6th Combat Engineer Squadron was reduced to a troop at Dundas, and the 102nd Construction Squadron also became a troop, subordinate to the 101st Construction Squadron.

Crestwood, New South Wales

Crestwood is a suburb of Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. Crestwood is located west of the central business district (CBD) to the west of Ross Road and the north of Canberra Avenue and also borders the Australian Capital Territory. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 4,603.


DNOC may refer to:


Defence Network Operations Centre at HMAS Harman, Canberra

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 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 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 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.

Jerrabomberra (district)

The Jerrabomberra District is a district of Canberra. It is situated to the southeast of South Canberra, south of the Molonglo River, east of Woden Valley and north east of Tuggeranong and west of the New South Wales border. It includes the suburbs of Beard, Hume, Oaks Estate and Symonston and the military communications and logistics facility HMAS Harman. At the 2016 census, it had a total population of 1,240, comprising 559 in Symonston, 430 in Hume (including the Alexander Maconochie Centre) and 251 in Oaks Estate and Beard At the 2011 census, 13 also lived in Harman. It is named after Jerrabomberra Creek, which runs through it, Jerrabomberra is derived from the Aboriginal word, meaning "afraid of lightning".Jerrabomberra includes the "urban village" of Oaks Estate, which was formerly part of Queanbeyan, broadacre uses in Symonston (including the headquarters of Geoscience Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration), light industry in Hume and Symonston, HMAS Harman and rural areas. It is crossed by the Monaro Highway and Canberra Avenue.

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.

No. 28 Squadron RAAF

No. 28 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Active Reserve squadron, based at HMAS Harman in the Australian Capital Territory. Its main role is public affairs and imagery.

Queanbeyan West

Queanbeyan West is a suburb of Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. Queanbeyan West is located west of the central business district (CBD) and also borders the Australian Capital Territory, it is located south of Crestwood and Canberra Avenue and west of Tharwa Road. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 3,136.

Shoal Bay Receiving Station

Shoal Bay Receiving Station is a signals intelligence-gathering facility in the Northern Territory of Australia located on the shores of Shoal Bay about 19 kilometres (12 mi) north-east of the Darwin CDB. The site is managed by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

Women's Emergency Signalling Corps

The Women's Emergency Signalling Corps (WESC) was founded by Florence Violet McKenzie in 1939 as a volunteer organisation in Sydney, New South Wales. As World War II loomed, McKenzie saw that with her qualifications and teaching skills she could make a valuable contribution. She foresaw a military demand for people with skills in wireless communications. As she told The Australian Women's Weekly in 1978: "When Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich and said 'Peace in our time' [sic], I began preparing for war."Initially, training was provided to female trainees, but after the war broke out, the corps also provided training to male servicemen using a pool of female instructors. In 1941, a number of WESC personnel were recruited into the Royal Australian Navy initially as civilian employees before becoming part of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service in 1942. Throughout the war, the demand for signals training saw over 12,000 servicemen and recruits receive training at the WESC school, while 3,000 women also received signals training, with around one third joining the services. The organisation was dissolved in 1954.

Women's Royal Australian Naval Service

The Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) was the women's branch of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). In 1941, fourteen members of the civilian Women's Emergency Signalling Corps (WESC) were recruited for wireless telegraphy work at the Royal Australian Navy Wireless/Transmitting Station Canberra, as part of a trial to free up men for service aboard ships. Although the RAN and the Australian government were initially reluctant to support the idea, the demand for seagoing personnel imposed by the Pacific War saw the WRANS formally established as a women's auxiliary service in 1942. The surge in recruitment led to the development of an internal officer corps. Over the course of World War II, over 3,000 women served in the WRANS.

The organisation was disbanded in 1947, but was reestablished in 1951 in response to the manpower demand caused by Cold War commitments. In 1959, the WRANS was designated a permanent part of the Australian military. The WRANS continued to operate until 1985, when female personnel were integrated into the RAN.

Current bases
Former bases


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