Defence has made a down-select decision to explore a variant of the offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the new Mine Countermeasures and Survey Vessels under Project Sea 1905 Phase 1.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds made the announcement during a visit to the Henderson maritime precinct and also said the replacement will be brought forward to the middle of this decade.
“Following the election commitment made by the Federal Government in 2019, we are bringing forward the replacement of the Huon class vessel from the 2030s to the mid 2020s,” Minister Reynolds said. “We are also committed to constructing a new hydrographic capability.
“These vessels will help Navy navigate more confidently throughout the region, and safely clear minefields with the use of autonomous technologies.”
Defence has released an Invitation to Register and Request for Information on Austender for various components of the mission management system, the integration of the system, and the construction of a toolbox of Robotic and Autonomous Systems that the new vessels will require. Details are available in ADM’s Tender Bulletin.
Currently, three classes of vessels are under construction at Henderson, including 21 Guardian class vessels, 10 of the 12 Arafura class offshore patrol vessels, and six Evolved Cape class vessels.
Since the 2016 Defence White Paper, eight ships have been built and delivered in WA, with another eight ships currently under construction at Henderson.
Minister Reynolds also foreshadowed the need for additional docking facilities to supplement the Captain Cook Graving Dock at Garden Island in Sydney.
“With plans highlighted in the 2020 Force Structure Plan to build two multi-role sealift and replenishment ships, a Pacific Support Vessel, and an ice-rated replacement for Ocean Protector in Australia, additional major docking facilities will be required in the near future to supplement the capability of the Captain Cook Graving Dock in Sydney,” Minister Reynolds said.
ADM Comment: It also remains to be seen where future Full Cycle Dockings will occur for the Collins class submarines. With space at a premium in SA’s Osborne facility and WA angling for the work, the announcement is long overdue. Readers can only hope an announcement will come in 2021.