HMAS Albatross Commanding Officer Captain Gordon Andrew has officially opened the base’s first major residential construction project in over 40 years.
The 170 new units are part of Single Living Environment and Accommodation Precinct (Single LEAP), a Defence initiative to improve living-in accommodation for single members and the $35 million Albatross upgrade was managed by Plenary Living and built by Richard Crookes Constructions.
All apartments have a kitchenette and ensuite, telephone and internet access, balcony and undercover parking. The facility also provides BBQ shelters, sporting facilities, car wash bays and a recreation pavilion.
The project was completed in Albatross’s 65th anniversary year and Captain Andrew said many personnel who had been posted to the base in its earliest days would consider the new facilities the height of luxury.
“In 1948 the base had been mothballed for two years after the air force left and personnel moving into accommodation at Albatross had to first remove the snakes and spiders who had taken up residence.”
“The facilities consisted of tin huts, each one holding 20 sailors with one toilet at the end of the hut and outside showers shared by four of those blocks, and the amount of hot water available for the showers depended entirely on the duty stoker keeping the boiler up.”
In 1951 there were officers and sailors still living in tents and caravans, with aircraft packing cases as annexes, at the back of Nowra show ground.
The new units replace accomodation built in the 1970s which, while considered state of the art at the time of completion, are now showing definite signs of age.
Leading Seaman Ashley Gamble recently moved into one of the new units and says he is very impressed with his new home.
“The units are self contained so I can prepare my own meals in the kitchenette and it’s a definite improvement to have your own bathroom. There is significantly more room available to move around, the air conditioning and wired internet are real luxuries and, of course, nothing beats the feel of a new room.”
Captain Andrew said the upgrade was a great moment and indicative of major plans for Albatross’s future. “There are exciting times ahead and this project is just part of the significant rejuvenation and modernisation taking place at Albatross over the next few years which will see the arrival of the new aircrew training school, new helicopters and all the facilities associated with these.”