HMAS Stirling is named after Admiral Sir James Stirling (28 January 1791 – 23 April 1865). Stirling, a Royal Navy officer and colonial administrator, landed on Garden Island, Western Australia in 1827 and returned as commander of the barque Parmelia in June 1829 to establish and administer the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. Stirling's makeshift camp was set-up on the craggy rock outcrop on the eastern side of the island, which today is known as Cliff Head and is the site of a memorial. He was the first Governor of Western Australia (1828–38). HMAS Stirling's crest is based on the Stirling family coat-of-arms.
The planning of Stirling began in 1969 when, after it was decided to create the Two-Ocean Policy, a feasibility study into the use of Garden Island as a naval base was begun. The 4.3 km (2.7 mi) causeway linking the island with the mainland was completed in June 1973. Construction of the wharves and workshops began in early 1973 and accommodation in 1975 with the facility, including the new Fleet Base West, being formally commissioned on 28 July 1978.
Since its commissioning on 28 July 1978 Stirling has expanded enormously within its existing boundaries and has seen building such as the Submarine Escape Training Facility - one of only six in the world and the only one in the southern hemisphere constructed. The 314 metre long two-level: "Diamantina Pier" and the redeveloped small ships harbour have vastly increased the wharf and berthing space available to surface ships and submarines at Stirling.
Today i is the largest base in the RAN, and is home to more than 2,300 service personnel, 600 Defence civilians and 500 long-term contractors.
The first major unit to call Fleet Base West home was HMAS Stuart, having first been assigned to Stirling in 1984 for several years and, after refitting in the east, again in 1988 until decommissioning in 1991. The first submarine to based at Stirling was HMAS Oxley in 1987. Later, the headquarters of the Australian Submarine Squadron was relocated there in 1994
Stirling has expanded significantly within its existing boundaries and is the largest of the RAN's shore establishment, with a base population of approximately 2,300 service personnel, 600 defence civilians and 500 contractors. Amenities included berthing and wharves, vessel repair and refit services, a ship-lift, and a helicopter support facility, as well as medical facilities, fuel storage and accommodation. The base also hosts the Submarine Escape Training Facility – one of only six in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
Some 12 Fleet units including RAN’s Anzac Class frigates and Collins Class submarines are stationed here, along with some 70 units including the Submarine Training and Systems Centre (STSC), AUSCDT Four and the Defence Communications Station (DEFCOMMSTA) Perth.
Other major additions have been the helicopter support facility located on the southern end of Garden Island, extensions to the RAN Submarine Training and Systems Centre, the Training Centre-West complex and a trials, research and support facility.
Ships stationedStirling is home port to 12 fleet units, including five Anzac class frigates, all six of the Collins class submarines, and a replenishment vessel.
Anzac class Frigates, HMAS Arunta, Warramunga, Stuart, Toowoomba and HMAS Perth
Collins class Submarines, HMAS Collins, Farncomb, Waller, Dechaineux, Sheean and HMAS Rankin
Replenishment ship, HMAS Sirius
Garden IslandGarden Island is 10 km (6.2 mi) in length, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) wide, and is 13 km2 (5.0 sq mi) in area, with Stirling occupying approximately 28% of that area. The remaining portion of the Island is nature reserve. The fragility of Garden Island and its environment had been recognised, and some 50,000 indigenous trees and scrubs were planted to stabilise the soil and enhance the wildlife's habitat. The navy has also been active in the removal of introduced flora and fauna species. The island has its own quarantine conditions, which prohibit bringing of plants and animals to the island.