More than 100 people attended the West Head gunnery range at Flinders, Victoria, for the final firing and decommissioning of the 76mm medium calibre gun (MCG), marking the end of more than three decades of service at the range.
CAPTION: The 76mm medium calibre gun fires an 80-round burst at West Head gunnery range at Flinders, Victoria. Story by Richard Wilkins. Photos by Leading Seaman James McDougall.
Navy has transitioned to the 5-inch MCG and future training will be delivered through virtual-reality simulation and onboard training, so the decommissioning of the MK75-76mm gun represented the end of 64 years of Navy shore-based medium calibre live-fire training.
West Head gunnery range Officer in Command Lieutenant Commander Peter Arnold said it marked the end of an era.
“The 76mm gun installation was fitted at West Head in November 1992, and in the years since has provided thousands of sailors and officers with training in medium calibre naval gunnery,” he said.
The 76mm gun was instrumental in training maintainers from Australia and the Philippines up until 2019.
It was also used as part of principal warfare officer training and skill development in medium calibre gunnery.
During the official decommissioning ceremony on October 10, the gun fired an 80-round burst at maximum rate of fire.
Those who witnessed the final salute included Commodore Training John Stavridis; Senior Naval Officer Victoria Commodore Greg Yorke; Director General Surface Combatants and Aviation Branch Commodore Andrew Quinn; Director Training Authority – Engineering Captain Thomas Doherty; and Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus Captain Ainsley Morthorpe.
Former range staff and representatives from Thales, DMS Australia, Security and Estate Group and others also attended.
The Royal Australian Navy assumed responsibility for the West Head gunnery range in 1958 and has been operating the site as Navy’s live-fire gunnery training facility for close range and medium calibre gunnery ever since.
It continues to operate two Typhoon weapon systems, a Mini Typhoon system and five 12.7mm machine guns.
“West Head gunnery range has a long and distinguished history of providing world-class, shore-based live-fire training,” Lieutenant Commander Arnold said.
“The facility will continue to provide our sailors with valuable hands-on experience in various naval weapons systems, ensuring they are prepared for their roles at sea.”
CAPTION: West Head Gunnery Range annual staff photo 2023 after the range’s Mount 31 76mm Medium Calibre gun’s final firing at Flinders, Victoria.