HMAS Dechaineux's Exmouth expedition

Published on LCDR Dan McCall (author)

Location(s): Exmouth, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Dechaineux (S76)

Personnel from HMAS Dechaineux visit the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt, at Exmouth, Western Australia. (photo: )
Personnel from HMAS Dechaineux visit the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt, at Exmouth, Western Australia.

The Weapons Electrical Engineering and Communications Information Systems departments of HMAS Dechaineux recently participated in a week long expedition to Exmouth, Western Australia.

Being an establishment of significance to the Submarine Force, the primary aim of the expedition was for the Electronic Technicians and Communications submariners to participate in an educational tour of the very low frequency (VLF) transmitter site at Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt, located 1300kms north of Perth.

Secondary aims were to foster interdepartmental mateship, conduct outdoor team building activities and promote community engagement.

The VLF antenna farm at Harold E Holt can be seen on approach to Exmouth.

As the team got closer, members were in awe of the magnitude of the engineering feat, which was built between 1963 and 1967.

The VLF antenna farm consists of 13 tall towers - the tallest of which is named Tower Zero and is 387m tall. It was once the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

During a tour of the facility led by base manager Mr Russell Levien, he informed the intrigued submariners about the complex workings of such an immense site, as well as the maintenance requirements to keep such an important capability in a reliable and available state.

The expedition covered several additional stops along the way, enabling members to experience the landscape and surrounding areas along Western Australia's Coral Coast.

Coral Bay and Turquoise Bay presented a great opportunity for members to snorkel and observe the coral marine life. Another outdoor highlight was a trek to visit Nature’s Window within the Kalbarri National Park and the Pinnacles Desert.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Dechaineux, Commander Brad Francis said the team thoroughly enjoyed the experience while providing a productive break from the daily routine.

“Visiting sites like Harold E Holt provides a better understanding of how various elements work together in support of the Australian Defence Force.

“It provides a greater appreciation of all that goes into supporting the submarines at sea,” he said.

The expedition team expressed its thanks for the assistance provided by Defence depots throughout the Pilbara Regiment, who provided accommodation and local region guidance.