The Royal Australian Navy is another step closer to welcoming its new fleet of support tankers into service, following the successful launch of NUSHIP Stalwart at a ceremony in Ferrol, Spain over the weekend.
Minister for Defence, the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the launch of the second Supply class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessel marked an important milestone in Australia’s $90 billion investment in the largest regeneration of Navy since the Second World War.
The two Supply Class ships, to be named Supply and Stalwart, will replace the current HMA Ships Success and Sirius. These ships are based on the vessel SPS Cantabria of the Spanish Navy, adapted to meet Australian standards and requirements. This type of logistics ship can simultaneously supply three ships with fuel, water, food, ammunition and other materials.
Minister Reynolds said, "The delivery into service of the Supply class replenishment vessels from next year will provide Navy with vital afloat logistics support to enable our ships to remain at sea longer."
The contract with the Commonwealth of Australia also includes support for the life cycle of the two AOR vessels for a period of five years.
Australia's defence industry will provide extensive support as part of the maintenance and sustainment contracts for Supply and Stalwart. Maintenance and sustainment will be carried out entirely in Australia, between major fleet facilities in NSW and Western Australia through the subsidiary Navantia Australia and subcontractors with whom Navantia already has relationships since 2007, when the first contracts (for the Canberra and Hobart Class vessels) were signed in Australia.
"These ships will ensure Navy can make sustained and long-term contributions to regional and international security in support of our national interest, and further our strong relationships with countries across Southeast Asia and the Pacific," Minister Reynolds explained.
Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO said NUSHIP Stalwart’s launch would support Navy’s readiness to conduct sustained operations at sea and position Navy as an agile, resilient and lethal fighting force.
"The Supply class AOR vessels will enable Navy to maintain a long-term presence at sea and provide combat support to our frigates, destroyers and combatants wherever they operate in the world," Vice Admiral Noonan said.
Vice Admiral Noonan added, "NUSHIPS Stalwart and Supply will extend our warships’ endurance and operational range by providing bulk fuels, potable water, stores and explosive ordnance to naval vessels operating at sea."
Australian industry will continue to play a key role in the construction of the AORs, with a minimum $120 million of investment into Australian products, skills and expertise. As part of this, 4,500 tonnes of the steel has been sourced from NSW-based BlueScope Steel.
In addition to BlueScope’s steel, the AORs integrated platform management system – the system that controls and monitors all the platform systems – will be built in Australia by NSAG, Navantia’s joint venture with Adelaide-based SAGE Automation.
Hobart’s Taylor Bros will supply a range of services including hospital, laundry and galley fit-outs, while SAAB Australia will supply the combat management systems and Raytheon Australia will supply the communications systems.
Additionally, these contracts include a significant participation of the Australian industry that will be responsible for the development of combat systems and communications, as well as some logistics areas and deck cargo cranes.
NUSHIPs Stalwart and Supply will replace the current replenishment tankers HMAS Sirius and ex-HMAS Success, which was decommissioned on 29 June 2019.