Hammerhead Crane, Garden Island, Sydney

Project Type:

Heritage Impact Assessment, EPBC Act Referral, Public Consultation


Parsons Brinkerhoff on behalf of the Department of Defence

LGA: Sydney

Sydney’s Hammerhead Crane (or, more accurately, giant cantilever crane) was located adjacent to the Captain Cook Graving Dock Facility at Garden Island on a wharf constructed in the 1940s (known as Fleet Base East [FBE]). Hammerhead cranes were designed at the peak of naval construction in the battleship era which began around the turn of the twentieth century. Construction of these vessels required mammoth lifting structures to maintain their heavy engineering machinery and main armament.

Construction of Sydney’s Hammerhead Crane commenced in 1944, paused in the immediate years after the war, and was completed in 1951. It was officially commissioned in February 1952. The crane ceased operating in 1996.

In 2012, after many studies, the Commonwealth Department of Defence (Defence) determined that the removal of the Hammerhead Crane was necessary to allow Garden Island to provide ongoing training and logistic support, maintenance facilities and berths for major current and future Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships home-ported in Sydney, as well as additional berths for other visiting RAN and foreign warships.

In 2012, Defence commissioned Parsons Brinkerhoff and Brookfield Multiplex Services (BMS) to prepare an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) (EPBC Act) Referral for the removal of the Hammerhead Crane from Fleet Base East at the Garden Island Naval Base, Sydney, NSW.

GML was engaged by Defence to provide expert heritage advice as part of the Initial Environmental Review and subsequently to prepare a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) utilising the Significant Impact Guidelines as part of the preliminary documentation assessed for the controlled action.

The HIA assessed the impact of the removal on the heritage values of the crane itself and on the Commonwealth Heritage Listed ‘Garden Island Precinct’. The HIA also included a visual impact assessment and recommended a range of mitigation measures.

In January and February 2013, GML managed the public consultation process under Section 95A of the EPBC Act and in accordance with the EPBC Regulations. GML then prepared a Summary Report for the Minister.

In July 2013, Defence received approval under the EPBC Act for removal of the Hammerhead Crane located at FBE, Garden Island, New South Wales. GML’s expert advice and management of public consultation has assisted with well-informed decision making on an important issue at an important place.

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GML Heritage project
GML Heritage project