HMAS Stirling, also known as Fleet Base West, is the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) base located on Garden Island, south of Perth in Western Australia. It provides operational and logistical support to the RAN surface fleet, submarines and aircraft stationed in Western Australia.
HMAS Stirling is the largest naval establishment of the RAN. The base population includes more than 2,300 active duty members, 600 defence civilians and 500 long-term contractors.
HMAS Stirling base history
The plans to establish a new naval base at Garden Island were conceptualised in 1969 after undertaking a feasibility study for using the island as a naval base. HMAS Stirling is named after Admiral Sir James Stirling of Royal Navy.
Construction of the 4.3km long causeway connecting the island with the mainland was completed in June 1973. The works commenced on the wharves and workshops in early 1973 and on accommodation units in 1975.
HMAS Stirling was formally commissioned in July 1978. HMAS Stuart was the first major unit to arrive at the base. It was assigned to the base in 1984 and stationed until its decommissioning in 1991.
The base welcomed the first submarine HMAS Oxley in 1987. The headquarters of Australian Submarine Squadron was relocated to Stirling in 1994.
Redevelopment of WA’s Fleet Base West
Stirling has expanded continuously since being commissioned and now the base accommodates a range of new facilities, such as the submarine escape training facility (SETF). The medical and dental centre, RANAWED explosives workshop, area office and amenities, CDT4 diving team buildings, naval stores and base amenities were expanded under the HMAS Stirling Redevelopment Stage 3 project.
DORIC was selected as a managing contractor to undertake the planning phase of the HMAS Stirling Redevelopment Stage 3A project. The project will include the construction and upgrade of 33 existing facilities associated with administration, operational support, command, maintenance and training services.
The base has been expanded many times over the years to the present peak capacity, thus the project largely involves the upgrading of existing infrastructure.
Operations at the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Garden Island base
HMAS Stirling is home to 12 fleet units including five Anzac Class frigates, six Collins Class submarines and a fleet replenishment vessel.
The base also accommodates 70 units, including the Submarine Training and Systems Centre, Australian Clearance Diving Team (AUSCDT) Four and the Defence Communications Station (DEFCOMMSTA) Perth.
The ships homeported at HMAS Stirling are: Anzac Class frigates – HMAS Arunta (FFH 151), HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152), HMAS Stuart (FFH 153), HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156) and HMAS Perth (FFH 157); Collins Class submarines – HMAS Collins (SSG 73), HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74), HMAS Waller (SSG 75), HMAS Dechaineux (SSG 76), HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) and HMAS Rankin (SSG 78); replenishment ship – HMAS Sirius (O 266).
Garrison facilities at Western Australia’s HMAS Stirling
The surface fleet and submarines access berthing space at the 314m long Diamantina Wharf and the upgraded small ships harbour.
The Marine Support Facility at the base provides vessel repair and refit services. The facility includes one of the largest ship-lifts in the nation.
The helicopter support facility is situated on the southern tip of the Garden Island. The seven-storey SETF at the base trains RAN submariners to escape from a disabled submarine. It is one of six such facilities in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
Other facilities include a simulated ship landing facility for helicopter crew training, the Training Centre-West complex and a trials, research and support facility, laboratory building, fuel storage facility and short-term vehicle and QM storage.
In June 2011, the Plenary Living Consortium was awarded a contract to build 268 housing units at HMAS Stirling. The contract is part of a nationwide project to deliver more than 3,000 new units to 14 defence sites. The work is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2012.
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