HMAS Watson Chapel





Visiting Clergy Guide

Thank you for agreeing to conduct a service at the Naval Memorial Chapel of St George the Martyr, HMAS Watson.

We believe that the Watson Chapel – one of two Naval Chapels in Sydney – occupies the most spectacular location of any place of worship in Australia. It was opened in 1961, and is the result of a post-WWII vision to erect a Chapel in memory of all Naval personnel who make the ultimate sacrifice. It was paid for by public subscription, and to this day is run as a Charitable Trust for the use of all Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families. The other Naval Chapel is on Garden Island.

If you are a civilian minister or priest, you are most welcome at HMAS Watson. We understand the nature of Christian community, and always try to strengthen the bonds between congregation members and their local church. We see your participation in the service as one means of doing this, and we are grateful for the ongoing support you offer ADF members and their families.

This guide is intended to answer some basic questions about the how’s and what’s of the Base and the Chapel itself.

The Base Chaplain

HMAS Watson has a full-time Chaplain. If you have any questions about Navy Chaplaincy, the Navy itself, the Chapel or its use, please email

If you have any questions about your service booking or access to HMAS Watson, please ring the Chaplain on 02 8966 2263 or email The Chaplain can also make arrangements for you to visit the Chapel to inspect the liturgical space, conduct a rehearsal, etc..

Officer of the Day

Your most important contact on the day of the service will be the Officer of the Day (OOD). The OOD is the Commanding Officer’s representative, and has control of the Base for a set period of duty. He or she is an experienced Officer or Senior Sailor who you should feel free to contact on any matter while you are on the Base. This is the number to call:

0408 963 623

Getting onto the Base

The ADF member you are running a service for should have advised your name and vehicle details to Base Security. When you arrive outside the gate, park in one of the bays to the left, walk to the pedestrian gate, and use the intercom to identify yourself. The guard will positively identify you in the guard-house – usually by means of your Drivers Licence – and then sign you in. At the same time, he/she will ask you to sign for the Chapel key. You will then be invited to return to your vehicle and admitted to the Base.

Proceed directly up the hill – the speed limit is 25 kph. You can leave your vehicle in the car park adjacent to the Administration Building (Bldg 8) at the top of the hill. The Chapel will be clearly visible as you enter the car park.

Getting into the Chapel

The front doors of Defence Chapels are never locked, so you should have easy access to the main part of the Chapel via the two blue main doors – they are held open by catches set into the interior walls on either side. The key you were issued opens the external door to the vestry and the two interior doors – one to the vestry itself and the other into the Chapel.

In the interests of safety, most electrical circuits are powered off while the Chapel is not in use. The switchboard is located in the north-western corner of the Chapel, near the Font. Just turn on the light and general power outlet (GPO) switches according to the labels. If any switches are tagged out, please follow the instructions on the tag.

Liturgical supplies and Chapel and Denominational Registers are located in the vestry, along with cleaning equipment, a small sink and a water heater. There is also a modular wheel-chair ramp which may be assembled over one side of the main stairs at the front of the Chapel.

Please record your service in the Service Register and use the denominational registers as appropriate.

Chapel Amenities

Toilets are located inside the white door in the rear of the Administration Building.

A wooden ramp to assist the access of guests in wheelchairs is located in the Vestry. It consists of four numbered units which are slotted into the stairs at the main entry of the Chapel.

The Sound System

There  is a Bluetooth receiver, mixer, power amplifier and external speaker located near the organ. They should all activate when you turn on the Chapel GPO’s. If they do not, they should be turned on manually after the GPO’s have been activated.

The easiest way to play recorded music is from the body of the Chapel using the Bluetooth connection, controlling volume via the MP3 or equivalent player.

Instructions for connecting to the Bluetooth system are located on the wall immeadiately to left upon entry to the chapel. 

Alternatively, an MP3 or similar player can be connected directly to the amplifier using the 3.5mm jack connector or the two RCA connectors, both of which are located with the amplifier next to the organ.

The Fan and Windows

The Chapel is generally quite cool, even in hot weather, but occasionally it is necessary to open the windows and/or operate the fan to encourage air-flow.

A number of panels in the large windows at either end of the building may be opened – some have conventional window lever latches and others are operated by a winding mechanism.

The controller for the large ceiling fan is in the side entrance vestibule – 35% is a good starting point for adequate ventilation with little noise.

The Organ

The Chapel has an organ. The Chapel Organist is Mrs Rosalie Forsyth-Grant, who can be contacted on 02 9371 1352 or 0421 823 826.

Other musicians are welcome.

Before the Service

1. If you haven’t met already, call the OOD on
0408 963 623 to advise that you are aboard.

2. Conduct an inspection of the Chapel and its surrounds to ensure there are no potential dangers to yourself or other Chapel users. If there are, inform the OOD immediately.

3. Locate and install the disabled access ramp if needed.

4. Just before the service commences, conduct a brief covering the following points:

a. On behalf of the Commanding Officer, welcome to HMAS Watson, and in particular, to the HMAS Watson Naval Memorial Chapel

b. Feel free to walk around the Chapel and its surrounds after the service. There is a path round the southern side of the building which leads to a cliff-top viewing platform. Please exercise caution as the ground is rocky and uneven. Similarly, please be careful moving around inside the Chapel as there are a number of steps, especially in the Sanctuary. Outside, guests should remain in the area indicated by signs on each of the roads leading away from the Chapel.

c. Photography is permitted in the vicinity of the Chapel.

d. In the event of an alarm or emergency, follow any directions given by a uniformed member. Please assist one another, especially children and older people.

e. If an evacuation is ordered, the muster point is the lawn adjacent to the flag-pole.

f. Toilets are in the Administration Building to the south of the Chapel. They may be accessed via the white door at the rear of the building to the left as you exit the Chapel.

g. All motor vehicles must be driven off the Base after the service. Cars may not be left on board and collected later!

Use of Chapel Furnishings and Equipment

We recognise that denominations have different liturgical requirements, and invite you to set up the Sanctuary area of the Chapel in an appropriate way for your tradition. Feel free to arrange the prayer desks, chairs, etc. as you like – but don’t forget to put them back afterwards!

Many families bring their own flower arrangements to the Chapel, and these should be removed after the service. However, there are also two arrangements of good quality silk flowers in the vestry. Feel free to use them.

The embroidered kneelers in the Sanctuary may be moved, but should be returned to the correct position after the service.

If access to the organ or sound system is required, remove the chain and ‘Staff Only’ sign from the spiral staircase. Only those directly involved with either playing the organ or attending to the sound system are to go up the stairs – for safety reasons the mezzanine floor is NOT to be accessed by other guests.

We do not employ cleaners and have no Chapel staff, so it is part of your responsibility as Service Leader to ensure that the Chapel is ready for the next service. Please ensure all furniture is put back in its original location, all flower arrangements, service sheets, drink bottles, sweet wrappers, tissues, etc. are collected from the pews and disposed of properly, and that the sanctuary, carpets and entrances are clean. (There is a vacuum cleaner in the vestry for this purpose.)

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Can we access Hornby Lighthouse via the Base’s back gate?
Answer: No, due to security requirements. Access is via the main Gangway, Cliff St and the public path.

2.  Can we use a drone to take photos?
Answer: No. The airspace above all Defence Bases is restricted.

3.  Can we access the Wardroom / Senior Sailors’ Mess / Junior Sailors’ Mess?
Answer: Only if prior arrangements have been made.

4.  Can I leave my car in the car park and come back later?
Answer: No. Guests have been authorised to enter the Base once only. All vehicles must be removed by the end of the booked period.

After the Service

1. Close the front doors.

2. Ensure the correct register entries have been made.

3. Replace all furniture, etc. that has been moved. Ensure all windows have been closed, candles extinguished, etc. Replace the disabled access ramp to the Vestry if used.

4. Collect and dispose of all rubbish. The nearest skip is down the hill to the right as you exit the Chapel. If necessary, use the vacuum.

5. Turn off all power at the Power Board following the labels inside.

6. Make sure the ‘Staff Only’ chain and sign is fixed across the spiral staircase.

7. Lock all three doors in the vicinity of the Vestry.

8. If there are any issues which need immediate attention, inform OOD on
0408 963 623.

9. If you encountered problems with any aspect of your visit or have any suggestions for improvement, we would like to hear from you. Please email the Chaplain on .

Leaving the Base

You may hand your Visitor’s Pass, Car Pass (if issued) and Chapel key to the duty MSS Guard as you drive off the Base.