Upgrades revealed for Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Albatross airfield

Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters from 816 Squadron prepare to land at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW. Image credit: defence.gov.au 

The Royal Australian Navy’s acquisition of a new batch of naval combat helicopters has been hailed as a major economic boost for the Shoalhaven amid a major upgrade to the HMAS Albatross air station.

The $124 million project will employ 75 people on average per day, with a daily workforce peaking at 120, the Australian Government revealed in a media release. 

The work will be carried out by BMD Construction Group and will begin in September. It is projected to take about 18 months and will require a daily workforce of roughly 120 contractors, the majority of whom will be from the Shoalhaven and Illawarra areas.

The upgrades will involve resurfacing the runways, taxiways, and aprons as well as repairing the stormwater drains and rebuilding concrete pathways.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy stated that this significant investment in HMAS Albatross underscores the government’s strong commitment to the Shoalhaven as a crucial defence aviation base for the country.

“This airfield upgrade will support the expansion of the Navy’s Romeo helicopter fleet, which will grow the region’s world-class defence industry, involved in helicopter maintenance, support and logistics,” Conroy noted. 

Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips considered the investment as an “exciting project” for Nowra and across the region, which she said will inject more than $100 million into the regional economy.

“Importantly, this upgrade will support the increasing number of Seahawk Romeos based here, which is good for local jobs and training, as well as supporting our community,” Phillips remarked. 

Beginning in early 2025, the base’s fleet of aircraft is anticipated to expand with the arrival of a second squadron of Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo Seahawk naval combat helicopters. 

Out of the initial 24 MH-60Rs the Navy purchased a decade ago, 23 are currently in service.

The only active air station for the Navy is HMAS Albatross, which is also the largest naval base in Australia, making it critical to the country’s national defence, the government noted.