HMAS Leeuwin (naval base)

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For ships of the same name, see HMAS Leeuwin.
HMAS Leeuwin
Leeuwin Barracks
Fremantle, Western Australia
Type Naval shore establishment (1940-1986)
Army barracks (1986-present)
Site information
Controlled by Royal Australian Navy (1940-1986)
Australian Army (1986-present)
Site history
Built 1926 (1926)

HMAS Leeuwin was a shore establishment of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), located in Fremantle, Western Australia.(I) Commissioned in August 1940 as the naval depot for Fremantle, the base was adopted for use as a training facility after World War II: initially for reservists and national servicemen, then as the Junior Recruit Training Establishment (JRTE) from 1960 until 1984. Decommissioned from naval service in 1986, the base was later reopened under the control of the Australian Army as Leeuwin Barracks.


Leeuwin was commissioned into the RAN on 1 August 1940 as the naval depot for Fremantle.[1][2] The base was named after the Dutch galleon Leeuwin (lioness), which accidentally discovered the south-east coast of Western Australia in 1622, while sailing to Batavia; this was later recorded on the Caert van't Landt van d'Eendracht ("Chart of the Land of Eendracht"), a 1627 map by Hessel Gerritsz and one of the earliest maps of Australia.[citation needed] The original facility was centred on a drill hall constructed in 1926 in East Fremantle, but Leeuwin was relocated in 1942 to Preston Point, on the other side of the Swan River.[2]

After World War II, Leeuwin was tasked with training reservists and national servicemen.[2] The base was reclassified as the Junior Recruit Training Establishment (JRTE) in 1960: boys who joined the RAN between the ages of fifteen years and six months and sixteen years and six months, would attend the JRTE for a year of secondary education along with basic naval training, before they were sent to other bases for training in their speciality.[1][3] Education and training of junior recruits was shared with the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell, located on Jervis Bay, New South Wales.[4] The first JRTE intake consisted of 155 recruits, and by the end of the decade, over 800 junior recruits and 100 officer candidates were in residence.[1]

The JRTE was closed in 1984, after having educated 12,074 recruits: the improving quality of education in Australia meant that the RAN no longer felt the need to provide secondary education to those wishing to join the navy.[4] Leeuwin was decommissioned on 11 November 1986: one of several RAN facilities closed during the late 1980s and early 1990s because of funding cuts and the rationalisation and consolidation of shore bases.[5]

Control of the base was handed over to the Australian Army, which operated it as Leeuwin Barracks.[6] The Army began using the base in 1987 for the Western Australia University Regiment, initially as temporary accommodation along with Irwin Barracks, then permanently by 2009.[7] The Barracks provides support for personnel of all three branches of the Australian military in the Fremantle area.[2] The RAN maintains control of the wharves and boatsheds, and uses the base to host the Fremantle Port Division of the Royal Australian Navy Reserve.[6]

In June 2014, the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) investigation into sexual and other abuse in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) reported that there had been widespread abuse of teenage trainees at the JRTE: 238 cases had been reported during the two years of the DART investigation.[8][9] Many of the reported instances of sexual and physical abuse were committed by senior trainees as part of initiation hazing of younger recruits, while others were the acts of naval personnel against the trainees.[8] Taskforce head Len Roberts-Smith concluded that the abuse was so widespread that Defence had to know about and be ignoring it.[8] Some of the reported cases were referred to the ADF or police for further investigation, and the DART report into the Leeuwin assaults has been forwarded to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for possible inclusion under the Royal Commission’s scope.[8]


  • ^(I) Like most Commonwealth navies, the RAN considers its shore facilities to be stone frigates, and treated them as ships.


  1. ^ a b c Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 195
  2. ^ a b c d Naval Historical Society of Australia, Australian Naval History on 11 November 1986
  3. ^ Naval Historical Society of Australia, Australian Naval History on 18 July 1960
  4. ^ a b Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 224
  5. ^ Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 243
  6. ^ a b Adams, HMAS Leeuwin, p. 103
  7. ^ Australian Army, History - Western Australian University Regiment
  8. ^ a b c d Wroe, David (18 June 2014). "Teenage recruits suffered horrific abuse at HMAS Leeuwin naval base". The Sydney Morning Herald ( Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Brissenden, Michael; McDonald, Alex (18 June 2014). "HMAS Leeuwin: Defence response to abuse cases criticised in taskforce report, graphic victim testimony revealed". ABC News. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 


  • Adams, Brian (2009). HMAS Leeuwin: The story of the RAN's junior recruits. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs 29. Sea Power Centre - Australia. ISBN 978-0-642-29717-4. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  • Stevens, David, ed. (2001). The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095. 
    • Cooper, Alastair. "The Era of Forward Defence". The Royal Australian Navy. 
    • Jones, Peter. "Towards Self Reliance". The Royal Australian Navy. 
    • Jones, Peter. "A Period of Change and Uncertainty". The Royal Australian Navy. 

Coordinates: 32°1′42″S 115°45′57″E / 32.02833°S 115.76583°E / -32.02833; 115.76583