HMAS Coonawarra galley gets a facelift

HMAS Coonawarra recently embarked on a voyage of transformation – an initiative aimed at optimising key areas, notably the galley and junior sailors’ and other ranks’ (JSOR) mess.

CAPTIONThe newly renovated dining area of the Larrakeyah junior sailors’ and other ranks’ mess at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, NT. Story by Leading Seaman Angus Koch. Photos by Corporal Madhur Chitnis.

With the support of funding through Navy Logistics and Navy Support Force HQ, the JSOR’s mess received a $2.1 million ‘refresh’ in record time, with a dual focus on operational efficacy and wellbeing.

Commanding Officer Coonawarra Captain David Shirvington said it was a large and necessary undertaking.

“Following an electrical fire in 2022 at the other ranks’ mess, significant work was required in Coonawarra to quickly identify a space that met the dining and recreational needs of our sailors,” Captain Shirvington said.

“Consequently, the Larrakeyah senior sailors’ and sergeants’ mess became the JSOR, however, was also not in a fit state and did not meet the contemporary needs of our workforce.

“Dating back to 1940, the building holds historical significance and is included on the Australian Commonwealth Heritage List, so any refurbishment had to be carried out within the guidelines laid out in that document.

CAPTIONNavy sailors and Army soldiers grab food during the reopening ceremony.

“The eventual refurbishment not only rejuvenated the building, but also safeguarded its heritage status, ensuring its continued preservation for future generations. The modernisation is aligned with Navy’s Stay On Board – People First retention initiative, championed by the Chief of Navy and Navy senior leadership.”

One area to benefit from the refurbishment was the galley – serving as the central space where culinary expertise converges with logistical precision, it plays an indispensable role in the morale and welfare of personnel.

Like any operational area, galleys deteriorate with age, becoming dilapidated and inefficient in layout.

“The aim of the refresh was to modernise equipment and infrastructure, thereby meeting the evolving culinary demands of our personnel,” Captain Shirvington said.

“However, this upgrade extends beyond the mere acquisition of new equipment and fittings – it’s about creating a more ergonomic and effective workspace for our chefs.”

Attention was also paid to JSOR mess social areas, where the base’s junior members gather to relax, socialise and recharge.

Tired carpeting was replaced with new flooring, enhancing visual appeal and ease of cleaning and maintenance. Alongside new paint and furnishings, comfortable seating and versatile spaces, the mess now offers a modern environment for members.

CAPTIONThe newly renovated outdoor area.

The addition of a refurbished outdoor sitting area and an upstairs bar provide additional areas for socialising.

“The transformation is remarkable. Once uninspiring spaces are now vibrant areas, which is a testament to our commitment to our people’s wellbeing and morale,” Captain Shirvington said.


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