Navy vessels visiting Brisbane have had straightforward and simple access to services while they’re alongside, due to a small but effective team the nation’s smallest commissioned establishment.
The small team at HMAS Moreton, on the south bank of the Brisbane river, coordinates with external agencies to arrange things like stores replenishment, refuelling and waste disposal for visiting Australian warships.
Since taking on this role, Moreton has provided logistic support to about 10 vessels, saving Navy a substantial amount of money.
Commanding Officer, Commander Mark McConnell said one of the biggest challenges came in April when Moreton’s crew received 48 hours’ notice of amphibious ship HMAS Choules’ arrival to load disaster relief equipment in response to Cyclone Debbie.
“We had to make sure there were no delays as we were quite conscious there was a time limit with getting Choules up into area of operations,” he said.
“To achieve this we made sure port authorities were well aware of what was coming in and what was required.
“We had to have all the resources available to ensure Choules’ logistics requirements were met and the ship received everything she needed.
“We’ve taken on the responsibility of understanding what a platform needs to achieve its mission and delivering it,” Commander McConnell said.
Moreton has a billeted staff of only four but heavily relies on the reserve force and personnel posted to the base short-term.
Moreton also provides admin support to about 150 permanent Navy personnel and 900 reserves posted or residing in south-east Queensland.
The base is home to Personnel Support Unit South Queensland, the South Queensland Reserve Cell, Navy Band Queensland, Navy Cadet Unit Gayundah and Army Cadet Unit 12.
Army units also make use of Moreton for training in small boats, water purification and development of bomb dogs in unfamiliar areas.
The Australian Federal Police and Queensland Emergency Service also make use of the base for training.
Moreton is the only Defence base in south-east Queensland with water access and can be used as a mounting base for a company sized force.
It was used as a command and control centre for the G20 Summit in 2014 and the 2011 Brisbane flood emergency.
Vessels up to 500 tonnes can come alongside at its pontoon. The base also maintains warehouse and storage facilities utilised by several Defence units.
This includes support to visiting operational ships, training activities and mounting base operations.
The biggest project under consideration is a proposal to build a new 60-person transit accommodation building, along with a multi-user facility featuring conference rooms and office space.
Refurbishment of Moreton’s pontoon and wharf and the base’s IT systems are due to be finished by the end of the year.
It’s hoped some of the additional office space could be used to accommodate Navy people wishing to work remotely.
“We currently have 11 personnel that are based here at Moreton but are working remotely for other organisations. That’s a saving to Defence,” Commander McConnell said.
“Since they’re not working as members with dependants unaccompanied their input to capability and organisational commitment to Navy is a lot stronger because they’re at home with their families.
“Once we get more office space in the new facilities, Moreton will no doubt become a base of choice for those personnel.”
Construction of the new facilities is expected to begin later this year.