Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Royal Australian Navy will lease an additional amphibious ship, the Windermere, to enhance the Navy’s amphibious capability during the forthcoming cyclone season.
This adds to HMAS Choules which will arrive in Australia in December and HMAS Tobruk which is currently in maintenance in preparation for the cyclone season which commences in November.
The additional ship has been leased to maximise the Royal Australian Navy’s ability to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters over the cyclone period.
The Windermere has been leased from 14 October to 31 January 2012, with the option to extend to the end of February 2012.
It has been chartered through P & O Maritime Services at a cost of $9.4 million. It is capable of supporting around 100 passengers and can carry 1000 tonnes of cargo.
The Windermere is also in addition to Australia’s agreement with New Zealand that the New Zealand amphibious lift ship HMNZS Canterbury would be made available as part of the joint Pacific-focused Ready Response Force, subject to any operational requirements in New Zealand.
Today’s announcement is one of a series of actions the Government has taken this year to improve Navy’s amphibious capability and ensure it has the capacity required for the cyclone season.
Imagery of Windermere is available at:
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan (02) 6277 7620 or 0418 251 316
Department: (02) 6127 1999
In February this year the Government announced the decommissioning of the Manoora on the advice of the Chief of Navy that the ship was beyond economical repair to bring back into operational service.
The Government also announced in February that Paul Rizzo would prepare a plan to improve the sustainment of our amphibious ships and other ships in the Navy’s surface fleet.
As well, in February the Government announced that it was pursuing the acquisition of the United Kingdom amphibious ship the RFA Largs Bay. The Government indicated at the time that, should this acquisition proceed, it would consider the decommissioning of the Kanimbla. In April the Government announced that it had successfully acquired Largs Bay for £65 million, approximately $100 million.
The Largs Bay is a 16,000 tonne landing ship commissioned in 2006. It has the cargo capacity of Manoora, Kanimbla and Tobruk combined.
Largs Bay will be commissioned into Navy service as HMAS Choules, in honour of Mr Claude Choules, the last known veteran to have served on active service in the First World War.
HMAS Choules is expected to arrive in Australia for a commissioning ceremony in Fremantle in December 2011.
In May the Government announced that HMAS Manoora would be formally decommissioned.
In July the Government released the Rizzo Report which provided a plan to reform support ship repair and management practices. The Government also announced that Mr Rizzo would chair an Implementation Committee to ensure that the agreed recommendations are being effectively implemented in a timely way.
On 18 August, the Government announced that the amphibious ship HMAS Kanimbla would be decommissioned on the advice of the Chief of Navy that it did not represent value for money to pursue further maintenance on Kanimbla.
On 30 August the Government announced that Tobruk would remain alongside Garden Island until maintenance has been completed to prepare it for the cyclone season which commences in November.
Whilst Tobruk has been in scheduled maintenance the Navy has ensured it has had a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief sealift response vessel:
• From May to 12 August the P&O vessel Aurora Australis was chartered.
• From 12 August to 14 October the Australian Customs Vessel Ocean Protector has been leased.