Australia to extend service life of Huon-class minehunter vessels

The Australian Government has granted first pass approval to extend the service life of Navy’s (RAN) Huon-class minehunter coastal vessels, Royal Australian Navy (RAN) said in a statement.

The Head of Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, was quoted as saying that the project forecast in the Defence White Paper 2016 will ensure Defence is able to provide an effective maritime mine countermeasure capability out to the 2030s.

According to the statement, negotiations are underway with Thales Australia to engage them as the Prime Systems Integrator to deliver the project. Under Thales’ lead, there will be also opportunities for other Australian companies to support the ships through their service life.

About Huon class Minehunter Coastal (MHC):

Huon class Minehunter Coastal (MHC) ships are a group of minehunters built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Following problems with the Bay class minehunters, a request for tender was issued in 1993 for a class of six coastal minehunters under the project designation SEA 1555. The tender was awarded in 1994 to the partnership of Australian Defence Industries (ADI) (now Thales Australia) and Intermarine SpA, which was offering a variant of the Italian Gaeta class minehunter.

Five of the six ships were constructed completely in Newcastle, New South Wales, while the hull of the first ship was built in Italy, then transported to Australia for fitting out. Construction ran from 1994 to 2003, with lead ship HMAS Huon entering service in 1999.

All six vessels are based at HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney. In 2006, following a capability review three years prior, one minehunter was placed in reserve, while another was marked for transfer to reserve status; this instruction was reversed prior to 2008, and the two vessels were tasked with supporting border protection operations.

As of January 2014, only four vessels were active, with the other two placed in reserve.

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