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Royal Australian Navy farewells 76mm medium calibre gun

The 76mm Medium Calibre gun at West Head Gunnery Range at Flinders, Victoria, was decommissioned following an 80 round burst at the maximum rate of fire. Photo: LSIS James McDougall.

The Royal Australian Navy has farewelled the 76mm medium calibre gun at West Head gunnery range at Flinders in Victoria, after more than three decades of service.

The Royal Australian Navy has farewelled the 76mm medium calibre gun at West Head gunnery range at Flinders in Victoria, after more than three decades of service.

More than 100 people attended the final firing and decommissioning of the MK75 76mm gun with an 80-round burst on 10 October, representing the end of 64 years of Navy shore-based medium calibre live fire training in Australia and the Philippines until 2019.

The 76mm gun was instrumental in training maintainers and used as part of principal warfare officer training and skill development in medium calibre gunnery.

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The Navy has since transitioned to the 5-inch MCG and future training will be delivered through virtual reality simulation and onboard 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.

“West Head gunnery range has a long and distinguished history of providing world-class, shore-based live fire training.

“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.”

The final salute was witnessed by 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.

The Royal Australian Navy now uses the Mark 45 5-inch/54-calibre lightweight modern naval artillery gun. The 127mm L54 Mark 19 gun is designed to be used for Naval gunfire support and against surface targets.

It features an automatic loader with a capacity of 20 rounds and can be fired under full automatic control taking a little over a minute to exhaust those rounds at maximum fire rate. For sustained use, the gun mount would be occupied below deck by a three-man crew (gun captain, panel operator, and ammunition loader) to keep the gun supplied with ammunition.

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