THE $192 million upgrade of HMAS Albatross is in full swing.
Anyone who has driven past the naval base recently can’t have missed the massive amount of work being undertaken.
The redevelopment project will upgrade and replace ageing, obsolete and, in some cases, potentially unsafe infrastructure to improve the base’s functionality and capability to support training and operations.
The project will improve base security; upgrade buildings and facilities to support operational capability; provide an improved working environment; new facilities to enhance present and future planning of the site; and upgrade aged facilities to contemporary standards.
The aim is to meet projected base operational and support capabilities for the next 30 years.
Many of the underground engineering services have not been upgraded base-wide since the base started operations in 1942.
Twenty-two different projects are part of the overall upgrade.
There will be upgrades to the base’s electricity, water, gas, sewerage, irrigation, stormwater, fire alarm systems, security and engineering services.
The defence restricted and secret networks will also be upgraded, as will telecommunications.
A number of new buildings will be constructed including new headquarters for the Fleet Air Arm, a refurbishment of the base administrative support building, which accommodates the base headquarters and associated functions of base command, while the Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre, which provides operational acoustic analysis and acoustic training for the Australian Defence Force, will be extended.
There will be a new air movement section to provide working accommodation and processing space for visiting aircrews, a new base support precinct and a new clothing store.
A new hot refuelling point will allow aircraft to fuel while their engines are operating. The work includes a new fuelling pipeline, while the parachute drop zone will also be upgraded.
There are major upgrades to roads throughout the base, including a new front entry, which will include the relocation of navy security personnel, while outside the base a massive roundabout has been built at the junction of BTU and Albatross roads.
Demolition of a number of aging facilities facing the runway apron are also part of the work, including hangars C, D, E and F, the corrosion control building, the spares store and associated structures which encroach into required airfield setbacks and clearances, to improve airfield safety.
There will be new sporting facility that includes change rooms, amenities, and a storage facility for equipment, as well as a 400 metre all weather fitness track, to the north of the existing gymnasium facility.
This work is on top of the $700 million Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) being constructed at the base, the $138 million MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopter maintenance and training facilities, home to 725 and 816 squadrons, as part of the $3.2 billion project delivering 24 new Seahawk Romeo naval combat helicopters.
HMAS Albatross is the centre of the navy’s maritime aviation capability, supporting the operations of one training helicopter squadron and two operational helicopter squadrons.
The base also accommodates the headquarters Fleet Air Arm, the Navy Aviation Training Authority, the Navy Aviation Systems Program Office, the Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre, the Navy Tactical Electronic Warfare Support Section, the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit, the Army Parachute Training School, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and the Navy's Historic Flight.