From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
HM Naval Base, Sydney
HMS Tamar (1891-1917)
HMS Penguin (1939-1944)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeNaval Base
Part ofEast Indies Station
East Indies and China Station
East Indies Station
Australia Station
Garrison/HQRN Base, Sydney
FirstCaptain William H. C. St. Clair.

Sydney was a base and naval command of the Royal Navy from 1788 until 1913 when it was handed over to the Australian government and became known as HMA Naval Base, Sydney.


Sydney was considered the centre of naval activity in Australia from the arrival of Europeans in 1788. Over the course of the 19th century the Royal Navy developed facilities around Sydney Harbour, most notably at Garden Island. Those facilities passed to the newly formed Royal Australian Navy in 1911 and Sydney became home port to the Australian Fleet. In 1913 the naval base was handed over to the Royal Australian Navy.

During World War II there was significant expansion of the naval facilities around Sydney Harbour, including a large expansion of the yards at Garden Island Naval Yard. After World War II, Australia began to have growing interests in the Indian Ocean areas to the west of Australia and the need for a major base on the west coast of the continent was identified.

This resulted in the eventual construction during the 1970s of HMAS Stirling, near Perth in Western Australia. In 1987 the decision was taken to permanently split the basing of the Australian Fleet. The collection of facilities and bases on Sydney Harbour was designated Fleet Base East while Stirling was designated Fleet Base West.

In Command

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Sydney (1891-1917)

  1. Captain William H. C. St. Clair, 19 January, 1891 – 6 March, 1894
  2. Captain William McC. F. Gerald, 19 January, 1894 – 15 December, 1897
  3. Captain Herbert W. S. Gibson, 15 December, 1897 – 15 December, 1899
  4. Captain Harry L. F. Royle, 15 December, 1899 – 19 August, 1902
  5. Captain John G. M. Field, 1 April, 1902 – 15 September, 1904
  6. Captain William S. Rees, 15 September, 1904 – 29 June, 1907
  7. Captain Charles L. Napier, 18 February, 1907 – 16 January, 1909
  8. Captain John P. Rolleston, 18 January, 1909 – 4 April, 1913
  9. Captain Charles F. Henderson, 7 December, 1912 – January, 1917.

Rear-Admiral-in-Charge, Sydney (1940-42)

  1. Commodore 2nd Class Gerard Charles Muirhead-Gould, R.N. 30 March, 1940 – 19 March, 1942

Flag Officer-in-Charge, Sydney (1942-44)

  1. Acting Rear-Admiral Gerard Charles Muirhead-Gould, R.N. 19 March, 1942 – 12 September, 1944.[1]

Associated Officers based at Sydney

Principal Sea Transport Officer, New South Wales (1940-44)

  1. Commodore 2nd Class Gerard Charles Muirhead-Gould, 30 March, 1940 – 19 March, 1942 .
  2. Acting Rear-Admiral Gerard Charles Muirhead-Gould, 19 March, 1942 – 12 September, 1944.


  1. "Rear Admiral Gerard Charles Muirhead-Gould, the Naval Officer In Command of Sydney Harbour, ..." Australian War Memorial. June 1942. Retrieved 9 April 2021.