Australia’s largest Royal Australian Navy base, HMAS Stirling, celebrated its 40th anniversary recently with an official reception and Ceremonial Sunset.
HMAS Stirling was named in honour of Captain James Stirling, RN who landed on Garden Island in 1827, and was originally constructed as an intermediate maintenance base for four destroyer escorts and three submarines.
However, Stirling is now home to half of Navy’s Anzac Class frigates, underway supply ship HMAS Sirius, Navy’s entire Collins Class submarine squadron, a number of auxiliary support vessels and various land-based lodger units.
The anniversary event, held at the Sir James Stirling Mess on the evening on 27 July, was attended by various former commanding officers, crew members and dignitaries, including Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, and WA Governor the Honourable Kim Beazley.
Vice Admiral Noonan, who has served in a number WA-based ships, said since his time as a midshipman in the former HMAS Bunbury in 1986, and nine years later as Operations Officer in HMAS Anzac, the base had changed significantly.
“Base infrastructure was still developing, and Fleet Base East was the premier naval base,” he said.
“Fast forward to 2018 and the infrastructure and facilities have grown enormously, and the capability that is based in here in Western Australia is more potent and deployable than anywhere else, not only in Australia but in the entire southern hemisphere,” he said.
“As we look forward to what the Navy will look like in 20 years’ time; we will have 12 submarines, three air warfare destroyers, 12 new offshore patrol vessels, and the recently announced Hunter Class frigates.
“More than 50 percent of that capability will be based here in Western Australia.
“So, the first 40 years may have taken a little while to warm up, but the next 40 years are really going to take off.”
Stirling Commanding Officer Captain Brian Delamont said despite significant changes to the base, Stirling continues to fulfil its role of providing essential support to ships and land-based Navy units.
“Our efforts were officially recognised last year with the award of the Governor’s Cup to Stirling; an annual award that recognises the most efficient base in the Royal Australian Navy,” he said.
Stirling is also the holder of the Navy League Perpetual trophy, having been judged in competition with all other RAN ships, submarines, units and establishments as making the greatest contribution to their local community.
Garden Island, known as Meeandip by its traditional owners the Noongar People, is located approximately five kilometres off the Western Australian coast – it is connected to the mainland by a 4.2km causeway.