Construction began in 1941 and Penguin was commissioned in July 1942, less than two months after the Japanese midget submarine attacks in Sydney Harbour, with a key role providing care to wounded service personnel.
Today the base is home to the Australian Defence Force Diving School, Navy Medical and Hydrographic Schools, Maritime Operational Health Unit, the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit, One Commando Company and the Australian Defence Force Centre for Mental Health.
Penguin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ian Campbell, took the opportunity to reflect on Penguin’s history.
“I am proud to be part of the celebrations for Penguin, a base that boasts such a rich tradition of service, reflected in our motto - Proud to Serve,” Commander Campbell said.
“Penguin’s units today have a unique role in developing the next chapter of our history through the skills and drive of our people, and our contribution to Defence capability.”
One of the honoured guests was Keith Hearnden, a 90-year-old Sydney resident who was based at Penguin during the Second World War.
Mr Hearnden, who retired as Able Seaman Landing Barge Coxswain, cut the cake as part of activities.
“Everything has changed so much and Penguin looks a lot bigger today than when I was here all those years ago,” Mr Hearnden said.
“The cells are the same though - I remember having to spend guard duty one night looking through the bush and shops up in Mosman to track down a couple of Royal Navy escapees who got away from the cells one night during the war.”
Commander Campbell also took time to discuss Penguin’s role in the local community.
“Throughout our history Penguin has been an important part of the lower North Shore community,” Commander Campbell said.
“We are honoured that we continue to enjoy the support of our neighbours, both here in Mosman and up at Avalon Beach where our annex is located.”
Penguin remains very active in the local community, regularly supporting charity events including the Balmoral Swim for Cancer, Balmoral Burn, Cancer Council Relay for Life at Manly, the Mosman Festival and Anzac Day commemorative services.