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Address at the official opening of the Noward Project Complex

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It is appropriate that Project NOWRAD is a co-operative effort

between the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air


The involvement by the two services in this base, HMAS ALBATROSS,

goes back to the early 1940s when the air field was . .

constructed for the Air Force. ·

It then went through a period as a shore base for the Carrier Air

Groups of the British Fleet and as a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm

Training Centre.

Australia's consciousness of the need for an air wing for the Navy

led it to be recommissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS in 1948.

Although many of the buildings here are from that period, more than

$25 million has been spent since 1969 on upgrading of facilities.

This work has been spread over a number of improvements, such as

upgrading of the runway and taxiing areas, air field lighting, a

flight simulator, avionics and mechanical workshops and a variety

of support and maintenance equipment and buildings.

There is at present an ordnance workshop and hangar administration

building under construction and also under consideration is a new

hangar. .

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HMAS ALBATROSS undertakes a number of important roles beyond its

primary function as providing base facilities for operational

training aircraft for the fleet air arm.

It provides logistic support to the Australian Joint Anti-Submarine

School, Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre, Aircraft

Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit, RAN Tactical Electronic Warfare

Support Section and RAN Aircraft Maintenance Examination Board.

It provides meteorological and oceanographic services, trains '

other Naval personnel and provides communications for the local

operational control and Navy ships and aircraft operating in

the area.

It is in this last area of aircraft control that steps were begun

some little time ago to provide adequate air traffic control

facilities here, which is now known as NOWRAD.

The NOWRAD installation comprises air traffic control surveillance

radar with processing and display equipment, which provides operators

with a plan position indication of aircraft to approximately 60 nml

primary range and secondary surveillance to 200 nml; and, Inter­

communications and communications equipment to permit operator

contact . with other air traffic control facilities and aircraft.

This equipment includes UHF and VHF radio transmitters

and receivers. Total cost of the project was $11.5 million.

The next phase of air traffic control development at Nowra will

include acquisition of a precision approach radar.

Concerted effort by the Navy and RAAF. has brought the surveillance

radar project to fruition and is an example of constructive inter­

Service co-operation.

The completed installation commenced trial operation in March 1982

and was operationally accepted in June 1982.

The NOWRAD installation is a combination of modern equipment and

will provide the tools for Navy air traffic controllers to ensure

safe and efficient direction of aircraft under their control.

The significant expenditure on this facility demonstrates the

importance of the HMAS ALBATROSS as an air base.

For those of you in naval aviation the past 12 months I know have

been a period of uncertainty.

Certainly there is no doubt as to the continued role of those of you

flying rotary wing aircraft in your service with the Australian fleet.

At least as important is the function of fixed wing aircraft in

their operations with individual ships and with task force groups.

The role of fixed wing aviation in the Navy is being examined in

conjunction with the review of our future carrier requirements.

It had been my hope that the decision on Government intentions

subsequent to the British Government electing to retain HMS INVINCIBLE

could be announced before Christmas.

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Subject to the Prime Minister's health, it had been my hope that

the matter would have been resolved before Christmas.

Department of Defence considerations are at a stage where the papers

will be available and I will ensure that we take that decision as

soon as we can.

We will certainly be looking at the wider question of the extent

to which we are able to meet fleet requirements for fixed wing

aircraft in whatever the with- or without-aircraft carrier

configuration the RAN1s future might be.

In the meantime while I understand your concern about your future

careers, the Government cannot afford to negate those skills.

Every effort will be made to ensure that those years of training

experience will be turned to account in maintaining the fleet

requirement when the forward consideration is taken. ·

In the Government we are fully aware that HMAS ALBATROSS enjoys a

sound and favourable relationship with the city of Shoalhaven.

ALBATROSS has a complement of approximately 1650 naval personnel

and 100 civilians, so including dependents, naval personnel comprise

about 20 percent of the total Nowra/Bombaderry population.

The Mayor of the City of Shoalhaven has estimated that the Navy

contributes $9.8m per annum to the local economy.

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In addition HMAS ALBATROSS has afforded valuable assistance to

the community of the Shoalhaven/South Coast region.

ALBATROSS has provided aircraft for the evacuation and relief of

flood victims; the transport of accident victims and the seriously

ill; the search and rescue of the crews of missing or wrecked

vessels; and the search and rescue of lost hikers and campers.

The Air Station has also provided assistance in the control of

bushfires in the Shoalhaven area.

All these areas of activity show that HMAS ALBATROSS is an integral

part of a highly professional and technologically sophisticated


With limitations on Government spending in all areas, a versatile

and professional organisation fulfils an important role iri

Australia's defence capability.

Future developments at Nowra will obviously be affected by the

decision on the acquisition of an aircraft carrier and on the

future of a naval fixed wing aviation. I

I have just been advised that the Federal Council of the Navy League

has selected HMAS ALBATROSS to receive the 1981/82 Award for service

rendered to the community in New South Wales, in particular to the

Shoalhaven Shire Council.

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Both in their professional activities and their community

involvement, the personnel of ALBATROSS have shown themselves

to be capable of maintaining the best traditions of the'senior


In all the areas of activity they have shown that HMAS ALBATROSS

is an integral part of a highly professional and technically

sophisticated service.

As I have said, the Government has fully in mind all these qualities

in its consideration of the future of the fixed wing element and of

the maintenance of the rotary wing element of the fleet air arm.

In declaring open NOWRAD it can be seen that the Government has

a continuing commitment, not only to maintaining the excellence

of this Naval Air Station but also to the men and women who make

it function so well.