• Federated States of Micronesia. (Unsplash)
    Federated States of Micronesia. (Unsplash)

Defence has spent $93 million on the acquisition of a second-hand 5,204 tonne offshore supply vessel currently moored in the Canary Islands in lieu of the “large-hulled” naval vessel that then-Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said in 2018 would be constructed in Western Australia.

While Senate Estimates was told in October 2021 that plans for local construction had been dropped in favour of an overseas purchase, details of February’s acquisition were first disclosed in Senate Estimates on 6 April. As of 20 April, there had been no Defence statement.

According to Sheryl Lutz, First Assistant Ships at CASG, confidentiality issues with the procurement had involved the former operators, Canadian company Horizon Maritime, not telling the crew where they would be going next until completion of a maintenance availability activity.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan told Estimates the five-year-old Norwegian-built vessel, previously known as Horizon Star, had been renamed Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Reliant and would normally be based in Brisbane due to its proximity to the Pacific operating area which it would be supporting. Maintenance would be undertaken as needed in and around Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin depending on tasking.

ADV Reliant is 103 metre long and has berthing for 60 personnel. Her aft deck provides 1060 square metres of cargo space and features a 150-tonne offshore crane and moon pool, an emergency towing winch and firefighting capability. A helipad is fitted forward of the bridge.

Unlike the two Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Docks and the Landing Ship Dock HMAS Choules normally utilised for humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) missions, ADV Reliant is expected to operate semi-permanently in the South-West Pacific.

This will allow the vessel to support resilience building before a disaster occurs, while also remaining on station during and after the event to provide a first-response capability.

Brent Clark, CEO of the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) described the offshore acquisition as “incredibly disappointing”.

“If Defence or the government had been able to actually go straight into a contract and look at how they would source this vessel in Australia, we would probably be very close to having this vessel in the water today,” he commented.


comments powered by Disqus