HMAS Kuttabul (naval base)

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HMAS Kuttabul
Fleet Base East, Sydney, New South Wales
Fleet Base East
Fleet Base East
HMAS Kuttabul.png
Crest of HMAS Kuttabul
Type Naval base
Site information
Controlled by  Royal Navy (1856–1911)
 Royal Australian Navy (1911–1967)
 Royal Australian Navy (1967 – present)
Site history
Built 1856
In use 1856–present
Battles/wars Attack on Sydney Harbour
Garrison information
Commander Todd Wilson, RAN

HMAS Kuttabul is a Royal Australian Navy shore establishment that provides administrative, training, logistics and accommodation support to naval personnel assigned to the various facilities that form Fleet Base East, the main operational navy base on the east coast of Australia.[1][2] A part of Fleet Base East itself, Kuttabul occupies several buildings in the Sydney suburb of Potts Point and in the immediately adjacent Garden Island dockyard. It also supports navy personnel posted to other locations throughout the greater Sydney region.[1]

The base is named for the steam ferry HMAS Kuttabul that was sunk while docked at Garden Island during a Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942.


Garden Island itself has been host to a naval base since 1856, when the government of New South Wales suggested giving the area over to the Royal Navy as a base for ships serving on the Australia Station. Following the foundation of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911, all naval establishments were given over by the UK to the RAN. However, until 1939, the ownership of Garden Island itself was in dispute, with NSW claiming it as its property. This was solved when the Australian government initially requisitioned the island (together with the naval base) under emergency wartime powers. The government then purchased Garden Island from NSW for £638,000 in 1945.

The Garden Island facility houses the Captain Cook Graving Dock which was, at the time of construction during World War II, the largest graving dock in the Southern Hemisphere.[3] The dock was constructed between 1940 and 1945, by filling in the area between Garden Island and Potts Point. The dock and associated dockyard are operated under lease by Thales Australia. The northern tip of Garden Island is as of 2008 open to the public, accessible only by ferry. The area features the Navy Heritage Centre, opened in 2004, and graffiti dating to the First Fleet in 1788.

From its foundation until the establishment of the Two Ocean Policy and commissioning of HMAS Stirling in 1978, Kuttabul was the RAN's main naval base. With the establishment of two main bases, Kuttabul and Garden Island took on the additional designation of Fleet Base East.

Ships Stationed[edit]

HMAS Tobruk alongside at Fleet Base East in 2013
RSS Endeavour visiting Garden Island during the International Fleet Review 2013
Captain Cook Dock, Garden Island

Although Kuttabul is the main administrative part of Fleet Base East, Fleet Base East is also responsible for the Mine Counter Measures forces of the RAN stationed on the east coast. These are based at HMAS Waterhen.

Canberra class landing ship dock

Anzac class frigate

Adelaide class frigate

Huon class minehunters (at Waterhen)

Round Table class landing ship heavy

Bay-class landing ship

offshore support vessel

Durance-class multi-product replenishment oiler

Sail Training (at Waterhen)

Heritage Items
Date Description Details
1945 Captain Cook Dock Constructed between 1941–45 and opened 24 March 1945 as the largest Graving Dock in southern hemisphere. 1,139 feet long, 45 feet deep.
1888 Royal Navy/Royal Marine Barracks Northern & southern balconies added in 1892
1888 Kitchens/Laundry Meals were prepared in kitchens and taken into Barracks for eating
Detention Quarters Cell door bolted to wall behind Barracks. The only relic remaining of Detention Quarters
1942 Tanks/air raid shelter Underground water tanks for kitchens made into air raid shelters for 100 people
1928 Lubricating Oil Store Modernised and lift added in 1984 to become Dockyard Supply Centre
1893 Sheerlegs Crane Constructed by Easton & Anderson, then the largest crane in the world. Design Load 160T and Test loaded to 200T. Removed in 1940
1951 Hammerhead Crane One of only 15 still standing around the world, the crane has not been used since 1996. Department of Defence has announced removal.
1788 Original Gardens Gardens were first started on 11 February 1788 for crew of HMS Sirius and used by various ships till 1806. Hence the name Garden Island, given in 1788 in January
1893 Naval Stores Water hydraulics provides the power for the lifts and hoists
1893-c.1960 Standard gauge rail Tramway operated around the Island. It was extended to Dock in the 1940s. Steam crane locomotives provided motive power
1889 Chain & Anchor Store/Battery Shop Submarine batteries maintained. Fire station located at end of Store
1889 Spar Shed/Torpedo Store Early Church Services in upstairs Dining Room
1889 Sawmill/Factory Machinery in factory run by belts from a main steam driven shaft
1916-1960s Cable & Chain Testing Machine Used to pull cables & chain to test links and ends
1895 Coal Store Storage for nearly 500 tons of coal, with its timber Coaling Wharf at the front, serviced with rail lines
1913 HMAS Parramatta Bow Stern is located in a park in Parramatta
1924 Gun workshop and store Converted to the RAN Heritage Centre in 2005
Various Memorials dedicated to ships of the Royal Australian Navy
1893 Tidal Baths Closed in 1973 due to Harbour water quality and condition of the pool
1886 2nd Boat Shed Since 2005 the Dockyard Display for the RAN Heritage Centre
1896 3rd Boat Shed First boatshed built west of island in 1858
1893-5 Administration Building Originally with single story on each side. Extended in 1920s & 30s.
1942 H.M.A.S. Kuttabul Memorial The site of the sinking of the ferry Kuttabul with a loss of 21 lives
1887-9 Rigging House First major building constructed. Upper floor was a sail loft, lower floor-boat shed and

rigging house. The sail loft was used as a ballroom and function centre in the years after it was completed

1942 Slipways/ Air Raid Shelter Northern Slipway later used as an stell reinforced air raid shelter. The steel plate was originally for the HMAS Sydney which was lost in battle
1950 Tarakan Disaster Memorial Landing craft HMAS Tarakan petrol tanks exploded, claiming 8 lives
1905–1948 Detention Quarters Navy gaol with 20 cells. Closed in 1943, demolished in 1948
1884–1888 Original End of lsland Reclaimed from Hill spoil. Original end of lsland close to north end of Rigging

House. A rocky shoal extended south where Rigging House is now situated

1902 Coffer Dam Constructed to surround a basin to drain in order for the Dock to be constructed
1996 Church /Memorial Chapel Balcony inside had 20 partitions for prisoners from gaol to occupy
1885 & 1895-6 Residences Constructed for Supervisors on call, continued use till the 1990s
1880 1st Tennis Court Built around 1880 just south of the residences
1884 2nd Tennis Court Built around 1884 on the area south of the present fuel tank remained till c.1930
1788 Rock Carvings of Initials FM,WB & IR 3 men surveying Port Jackson landed and carved their initials
1902 1st Signal Station
1910 2nd Signal Station A 72 metre mast was constructed in 1912. Shortened flag mast now located at National Maritime Museum
1925 3rd Signal Station
1917 Oil Fuel Tank 5,000 Ton Oil Fuel Tank planned in 1913, excavations began in 1915, continuing till 1917 when tank was constructed for the new fuel oil burning ships


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°51′45″S 151°13′36″E / 33.86250°S 151.22667°E / -33.86250; 151.22667