Unassuming building caters for all

Published on CPO David Thomason (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Location(s): Henderson

Topic(s): Fleet Base West

The combined catering departments of HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Ballarat at the Common User Facility, Henderson, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
The combined catering departments of HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Ballarat at the Common User Facility, Henderson, Western Australia.
Common User Facility Building Two is an inconspicuous single storey building with a view across Cockburn Sound to Fleet Base West and Garden Island.
 
Exactly what goes on inside the building located in Henderson, Western Australia has led to years of wild speculation - a bit like the myth of Area 51 in the middle of the Nevada desert.
 
The answer is that it boasts a galley - catering for the daily victualling of ships companies while ships undergo various activities including Docking Selected Restricted Availability and upgrades.
 
Building Two can at times be a hive of activity, where chefs of different ships work together to keep their sailors fed. With the aid of a parade of canvas marquees and extra barbeques, HMAS Ballarat food service manager Petty Officer Maritime Logistics-Chef Dean Gilchrist and his team recently devised a means to cater for as many as four ships’ companies – more than 300 sailors.
 
“It is a daunting task,” Petty Officer Gilchrist said. “But it’s a challenge we are keen to meet.
 
“Using the galley's core amenities and a touch of careful planning, a diverse and nutritional menu is provided to the hard working sailors of the ships alongside,” he said.
 
Expanding on the kitchenette facilities and the mobile galley previously present, the building was upgraded in 2016 to allow for dedicated food storage and cooking facilities for up to 150 personnel.
 
The building also houses ablutions, showers, change rooms and gym equipment.
 
There are extensively remodelled offices with IT infrastructure left behind by a previous tenant which has been earmarked for Defence Protected Network upgrade in the near term.
 
This will provide ships with easy access to the network, removing the need to transit to Fleet Base West to conduct their daily business.
 
The Building 2 facilities will continue to play a key role for the ships during their maintenance availabilities and for the crews as their ship enter and exit ANZAC Midlife Capability Assurance Program over the coming years.