In 2015, an Illawarra Consortia developed a report “The Jewel of the East Coast: The Case for Relocation of Royal Australian Navy Fleet Base East to the Port of Port Kembla”. This report supplemented a submission by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (October 2014) to the Defence White Paper. The report found that an historic opportunity exists to engage in a bold initiative in nation building by relocating the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Fleet Base East from its current constrained environs at Garden Island to the Port of Port Kembla with its abundant prospects including enhanced site/works capability, safety and security and personnel requirements. The report builds the case for relocation to the Illawarra as a viable option for the RAN’s Garden Island operations, either in part of full. It highlighted the competitive advantages of the Illawarra, including the fact that it is contiguous with Sydney to the north and incorporates the Shoalhaven district, home to RAN’s existing installations at Jervis Bay, south of Port Kembla.
The proposal outlined in the report represents a “one-voice” expression of views, expertise and passion of regional stakeholders, drawn together by RDA Illawarra. The key advantages of relocation of Navy to the Port of Port Kembla include:
- 24/7 maintenance capability
- Deep water Port, with 14 to 16 metres depth
- Strategic east coast location
- Ease of access and logistics connectivity
- Access to highly skilled workforce and spousal employment opportunities
- Access to world-class tertiary education facilities and R&D capabilities.