HMAS Leeuwin (naval base)

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HMAS Leeuwin
Leeuwin Barracks
Fremantle, Western Australia in Australia
HMAS Leeuwin is located in Western Australia
HMAS Leeuwin
HMAS Leeuwin
Location in Western Australia
Coordinates 32°1′42″S 115°45′57″E / 32.02833°S 115.76583°E / -32.02833; 115.76583Coordinates: 32°1′42″S 115°45′57″E / 32.02833°S 115.76583°E / -32.02833; 115.76583
Type
Area 15 hectares (37 acres)
Site information
Owner Department of Defence
Operator
Site history
In use 1 August 1940 (1940-08-01) – present

HMAS Leeuwin is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) shore establishment,[note a] located in Fremantle, Western Australia. In use between 1940 and 1984, the base reopened in 1986 under the control of the Australian Army as Leeuwin Barracks.

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 RAN reservists and national servicemen, then as the Junior Recruit Training Establishment (JRTE) from 1960 until 1984. There was widespread sexual and physical abuse of trainees at the JRTE, with 10% of reports investigated by the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce relating to incidents at Leeuwin. Decommissioned from naval service in 1986, the base was later reopened under the control of the Australian Army as Leeuwin Barracks. In 2015, the Australian Government announced that the Leeuwin site will be sold off for residential development.

History[edit]

Leeuwin was commissioned into the RAN on 1 August 1940 as the naval depot for Fremantle.[1]:195[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.[3]:21 The ship's badge assigned to the base was based on the Coat of arms of the Netherlands.[3]:21 The original facility was centred on a drill hall constructed in 1926 in East Fremantle, which prior to commissioning as Leeuwin was identified as Cerberus V, a sub-base of HMAS Cerberus in Victoria.[2][3]:21 In 1942, Leeuwin was relocated 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: adolescents 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]:195[4] Education and training of junior recruits was shared with the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell, located on Jervis Bay, New South Wales.[5]:224 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]:195 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.[5]:224 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.[6]

Control of the base was handed over to the Australian Army, which operated it as Leeuwin Barracks.[3]:103 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.[3]:103

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.[8][9] During the two-year DART investigation, 238 complaints of abuse at the JRTE (making up 10% of the cases investigated by the task force) were assessed and found to be plausible.[9][10] 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]

In June 2015, the Australian government announced that the Leeuwin site no longer has strategic value, and will be sold for residential development.[10] Defence units and assets will be relocated to Irwin Barracks in Karrakatta.[10] Around 250 dwellings are expected to be constructed on the 15-hectare (37-acre) site.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cooper, Alastair (2001). "The Era of Forward Defence". In Stevens, David. 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. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Australian Naval History on 11 November 1986". On This Day. Naval Historical Society of Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Adams, Brian (2009). HMAS Leeuwin: The story of the RAN's junior recruits (PDF). Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs. 29. Sea Power Centre - Australia. ISBN 978-0-642-29717-4. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Australian Naval History on 18 July 1960". On This Day. Naval Historical Society of Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Jones, Peter (2001). "Towards Self Reliance". In Stevens, David. 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. 
  6. ^ Jones, Peter (2001). "A Period of Change and Uncertainty". In Stevens, David. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. p. 243. ISBN 0-19-555542-2. OCLC 50418095. 
  7. ^ "History - Western Australian University Regiment". Australian Army. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  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 11 June 2015. 
  9. ^ a b 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 11 June 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d Butterly, Nick (4 June 2015). "Leeuwin Barracks to go on the market". The West Australian. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]