HMAS Kuttabul (Naval Base)
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. 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.
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. 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.