New hangar and home to accommodate 443 Squadron for decades to come

It’s the first time the 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Victoria has moved in 50 years – and Brian Fraser expects it will be a long time before it has to happen again with the completion of their new $104-million facility this summer.

“It was substantially completed June 30 and DND personnel are gradually moving in,” said Fraser, DCC’s Major Project Leader for the build. “It’s a big process.”

“Big” is an appropriate word to describe anything related to the new hangar and squadron headquarters. The building is roughly 20,000 square meters, took 33 months to construct and is one of only a few DCC projects to break the $100-million mark. While 443 Squadron is currently operating six Sea King helicopters, it is expected to receive nine Sikorsky Cyclone helicopters in 2015. This facility is designed specifically for the new helicopter that’s to come.

“It’s a much more modern facility with the proper overhead cranes and workshops that meet current occupational health and safety regulations,” said Fraser. It is also designed to have a separate area for repair/care of the composite materials that the Cyclones’ bodies are made of.

“In general, everybody’s suitably impressed with, first—the size, and second—the functionality of the new building,” said Fraser.

For the construction team, the key to success was being able to keep most of the members in place throughout the entire construction period. This increased everyone’s familiarity with the project and kept the timing on track. It’s also made it particularly satisfying for their team to see the building completed.

“Three years is a long time to be assigned to any one project – it’s certainly a rare occasion – so it feels really good to see it from start to finish,” said Fraser.

The three-level, six-storey building will consolidate all operations and support functions into a single facility. DCC staff are continuing with final finishes and ironing out any required adjustments as the roughly 250 users move in.

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