In line with the ‘Two-Ocean Basing Plan’ announced in 1987, the RAN has maintained a two-ocean navy (Pacific and Indian) capable of deploying major fleet units for sustained operations off both the east and west coasts. The two fleet bases are known as Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul) and Fleet Base West (HMAS Stirling). Today, Kuttabul serves as the administrative centre for FBE, a precinct that extends beyond the borders of Kuttabul and includes the Garden Island dockyard and adjacent wharf facilities at nearby Woolloomooloo.
Sydney has served as a major naval base for British and Australian maritime forces due to its vast and well-protected natural harbour of Port Jackson. It was the premier naval facility of the Royal Australian Navy following the arrival of the Fleet Unit on 4 October 1913. Ships of the Royal Navy’s Imperial Squadron were based in Sydney throughout colonial times.
The precinct has expanded greatly over the past 100 years, particularly during the war years of 1939-1945. Garden Island, the traditional centre of naval activity in Sydney Harbour, was connected to the mainland during the war when the Captain Cook graving dock was built. A number of shore establishments were also commissioned to support Sydney-based naval forces.