Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef / Western Australia
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H. E. Holt Naval Communication Station
The Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station is a radio relay station, passing messages between Australian and US command centres and their respective ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific. It consists of a very low frequency (VLF) transmitter, high frequency transmitter (HF) and receivers as well as a satellite communication system.
The VLF was the tallest and biggest man made structure in the southern hemisphere until the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur were build. It is so large that central Sydney will fit into the transmitter and with 388m or almost 1300 feet tall Tower Zero it sure stands out!
The Station was build in the late 60’s as an US Base, under US command assisted by a RAN deputy. On the 1st of October 1992 a Royal Australian Navy Officer was appointed as the Commanding Officer for the first time. The US Navy decided to withdraw all personnel and handed over the management to the RAN. On the 8th of May 1999 the base was officially handed over to the RAN under the command of the first woman in charge of a Naval Base in Australia. Commanding officer John Cooper handed over to commanding officer Susan Jones, just after tropical cyclone Vance hit the North West Cape. Commander Sue Jones was the first female commander in the history of the RAN to take command of a Naval Base. She and the RAN were decommissioned on the 6th of December 2002.
The station is now under Direct Defence management and operated by a private contractor. New technology is now replacing almost 500 people once have been working here. Still the VLF is under full operation and a strategic important asset to both RAN and USN.
In 1996 commanding officer John Cooper encouraged local business operators to use the unused and vacant facilities. Late 1997 Axel Passeck heard a rumour that the buildings on H.E. Holt were for lease. He and his wife Eske negotiated four months and finally signed their licence to use BEQ 4 (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters No. 4) in November 1997. Their idea, to create the first and only Hotel in the world in the former Chief Petty Officers Quarters, was pioneer work. Just to overcome their language problems (being just 6 months in the country, after immigrating from Germany) not mention to the trouble of raising twin babies,the distances, lack of local knowledge and the isolated location was an incredible task. Four months of hard work, cleaning up and renovation finally got them trading on the 1st of April 1998.
Today it is known as the 4 Star BEST WESTERN Sea Breeze Resort Exmouth, a true unique resort in a unique location on the North West Cape.
The centre antenna is about 388 meters tall.