The current site of HMAS Albatross was identified in 1938 and land was purchased in June 1939. The airfield was originally opened in 1935 at another site. The base was declared operational in July 1941. The airfield was used by squadrons of the Beaufort torpedo bombers of Royal Australian Air Force when it opened in 1942. Martin Marauder bombers of the USAAF were also based there in 1942-1943 for training as torpedo bombers.
In 1944, the need for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy for shore bases led to RAAF Nowra, due to its proximity to Jervis Bay, being transferred to the RN, being renamed HMS Nabbington. This base was used by Mobile Overseas Naval Air Base (MONAB) No 1 from 21st December 1944 to 15th November 1945. The base supported the British Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers by providing shore based facilities for the Carrier Air Groups when the carriers were in Sydney for repairs and resupply. At the end of the Pacific War the British Pacific Fleet returned through its main base in Australia and FAA Squadrons transited through HMS Nabbington until it was decommissioned on the 15th November 1945. HMS Nabswick (MONAB 5) moved from the nearby Jervis Bay field to this site where it operated until the 18th March 1946 when the unit decommissioned and the site was retuned to the RAAF.
In 1947, the RAN’s own Fleet Air Arm was formed, and the Nowra airfield was chosen to be its main shore base. HMAS Albatross was commissioned on August 31, 1948, with its first squadrons disembarking from the new Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney in May 1949.