- Reed, R.A. (Bill)
- Naval Intelligence, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Harman (base)
- June 1997 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The enormous growth of the Department of Defence during the 1970s – with development of the Russell Hill complex – had a major impact on HMAS Harman. The Navy Office move to Canberra increased RAN personnel in the region to over 700. By 1981, Navy personnel were employed in more than a dozen Canberra locations, only four of which were a part of Harman, but this put great strains on its accommodation and technical capacity requiring extensions and upgrading.
A very big occasion for the Navy was its 75th Anniversary in 1986. HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the RAN memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra, in the presence of over 6,000 past and serving RAN personnel.
In September 1995, Bels 44 ceased operation. Its low frequency function transferred to the Harold E. Holt Communication Station at North West Cape in Western Australia. That station’s big transmitter operates at less than half the frequency (20kHz), requiring a very much larger aerial, and (reportedly) broadcasts at more than four times the power of Bels 44. However, the High Frequency function at Belconnen is still operational. The problem, now, is to remove the three huge OF masts that have passed their ‘use-by’ date and therefore pose some dismantling safety problems.
In the next few years, the intention is to remove the functions of both Belconnen and Harman to the Albury area. This will free the Belconnen station and its expansive aerial complex for valuable real estate development.
The Navy Departs Belconnen
As from April 1996, the Royal Australian Navy personnel responsibility at Belconnen Naval Wireless Station ceased. Its former functions are now undertaken by civilian personnel employed by Rockwell.
The author, former Chief Radio Electrician (Bill) Reed, was one of the first post-war radio mechanics, and served at Belconnen Naval Wireless Station from early 1956 to mid 1962.