Arrival of the first RAN fleet in Sydney on 4th of October 1913, saw Spectacle Island and Garden Island, taken over by the Royal Australian Navy.
RAN ships in Sydney entering or completing refit would load or offload ammunition into lighters stationed at Spectacle Island. These would then transport the load to either Spectacle Island, or further up the Parramatta River to RANAD Newington. This was known as the ‘Ammunition Pipeline’.
The outbreak of WW2 in 1939 Start of WW2 led to a rapid increase in activity with a major focus being the storage of smaller calibre ammunition and use of workshops for the overhaul of Bofors and the testing of Depth charge fuses. 177 Ordinance inspectors tested ammunition and gun barrels.
A large number of spare gun barrels were stored on gun pounds with additional storage on Shark and Clark Islands. An observation post and spotlight was installed on southern rock outcrop for triangulating any bomb falls.
In 1944 extra Moorings were installed for increased lighter storage and in 1945 reclamation on the south eastern side for Building 39 was carried out to provide space for an empty package store.
Following the end of WW2 Spectacle Island became a repository for surplus gunnery equipment as ships paid off.
The Island stored many spare gun barrels on what was known as a Gun Pound. Barrels were also stored on Garden Island and nearby Clark Island
In 1960 control of the island passed to RNAD Newington and use of the Island evolved into a central control centre for the fleet of ammunition lighters. The Island was then ringed by a variety of ammunition lighters which served as temporary storage for warships undergoing refit at Garden Island or Cockatoo Island.
During the Vietnam conflict as many as 24 Lighters were in use and moored around island. These included; 7x 50 Ton, 8 x 100 ton, 7 x 200 ton, 3 x 300 ton, 1 flat top lighter and 3 40ft workboats and a tug.
In 1983 Defence planning for a replacement ammunition depot commenced as part of a Fleet Base relocation proposal and then in December 1992 the Minister for Defence directed that the Department of Defence commence planning immediately for the closure of Newington Armament Depot and the associated ammunition supply line between Kingswood and the anchorage in Sydney harbour including Spectacle Island.
This was based on a timetable assuming Sydney would be successful in its bid for the 2000 Olympic Games.