HMAS Suvla Bay is a 'Stone Frigate' shore base of the Roayal Australian Navy in the Shoalwater Bay Military Reservation on the East coast of Queensland. Established in 1966 to support the training of ships enroute to the Mindanao Insurrection, it became the home of the RAN's School of Army Cooperation and the Amphibious Warfare Training Establishment.
School of Army Cooperation
Simply isn’t – a school of Army cooperation that is. Quite the reverse in fact, so far as Army Command are concerned the greatest act of cooperation that RAN could provide is to close Suvla Bay and stop playing at soldiers. The Navy of course take the reverse view and believe the Army aught to belt up and come on board. In effect the ‘RAN School of Army Cooperation’ is actually the ‘RAN School of Land Warfare’ were selected personnel are trained to conduct basic light infantry work and to work ashore in conjunction with the Army. If this arrangement is barely tolerated in Canberra it works quite well on the ground, mostly it has to be said because the Navy are always willing to contribute forces to REDFOR for exercises in the Shoalwater Training Area. This allows the local command to mount larger exercises at no cost and the ‘Fish Heads’ are useful cannon fodder nobody minds ‘wasting.’ While the Naval ‘Landing Parties’ do get a bit sick of being everyone whipping boy, they gain great delight in their occasional victories over the Army and generally give a good showing. The trick is to keep them within about 15,000 yards of the coast and make sure they have an NFOP or two on hand so ‘death from above’ in the form of notional 120mm HE can do its work. They also have a better beer supply.
Once qualified as ‘Seaman at Arms’ from Suvla, ratings tend to congregate in the Forecastle Division of Her Majesty’s Australian Ships, where they grunt to each in an language linguists believe is dialect of ‘Gunnery’ and can usually be translated by any graduate of French Island (RAN), Whale Island (RN), Walney Island (RM) or Paris Island (USMC). Much given to showing off their bright plumage (rate badges – crossed rifles over a sword with heraldic grenades) and sounding their mating cries of being ‘Naval Commandos’, in a vain effort to attract females, they do come in moderately useful on occasion, particularly if problems can only be solved with brute force and ignorance, or if human fenders are required.
The School also runs workup courses for the Patrols Squadron, teaching the poor sods assigned to the Inshore Flotillas those facts of life not directly connected to beer, girls in grass skirts and fishing over the side.
Amphibious Warfare Training Establishment
This block of rusty corrugated iron huts actually does what it says on the label, for the most part. The Royal Australian Engineers Water Transport Section works out of Sydney, but being RAE they actually have been known to get their hands dirty and when they do, as often as not its up at Shoalwater where they work hand in glove with AWTE proving that the Royal Australian Logistic Corps can’t walk on water without a bit of help. However when the RAEWT aren’t around the AWTE get to support the School of No Cooperation and on occasion the Army. This was once a popular activity with both parties, unfortunately a great lummox by the name of Clifford dropped band new Monash III tank off a reef some years back and the Army got a little stroppy when it failed this flotation test in about 2,000 fathoms.