Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the government’s plan to acquire an Australian-made regional support craft to boost border protection capabilities in far north Queensland.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the regional support craft, which will be located at Thursday Island, will also provide marine support to whole of government operations.
"The craft will be operated by Army’s 51st Far North Queensland Regiment, enabling them to perform tasks including search and rescue, recovery and casualty evacuation operations. Defence has a long-standing presence in the Torres Strait and this new capability will ensure our waters continue to remain safe," Minister Reynolds explained.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said local Thursday Island company Rebel Marine would improve the infrastructure at the wharfage and accompanying mooring facilities to accommodate the new vessel.
"The craft and wharf upgrades are a great opportunity for local industry to support Defence operations in far north Queensland," Minister Price added.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch welcomed the announcement and said he had been advocating for a permanent vessel in the Torres Strait.
"Rebel Marine already provide engineering and waterfront services for the Queensland Water Police and a variety of commercial vessels. This additional opportunity is excellent news for Thursday Island," Entsch said.
The support arrangement with Rebel Marine for waterfront services is still under development and is expected to be in place by October 2020 when the craft is scheduled to be delivered to Defence.