The Royal Australian Navy’s lead ship of the Supply Class auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) ships, NUSHIP Supply, has set sail from Navantia’s Ferrol shipyard for Australia.
The occasion was marked by a small ceremony held in Ferrol attended by senior Navantia personnel, the Royal Australian Navy’s defence attaché in Madrid, Captain Tim Byles, and the Department of Defence’s inspection team from Teekay.
COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented a larger event from taking place. Flags from both nations were presented during the ceremony.
Navantia’s global president Susana de Sarría said, "This is a proud moment for the people of Navantia and Australia who have worked directly or indirectly in making Supply a reality over many years and continues our close relationship between our two countries."
NUSHIP Supply will arrive in Western Australia early October and will be based at HMAS Stirling where the installation and testing of the combat and communications systems, as well as some logistics areas, will be completed by Australian industry.
"The achievement of this milestone is a great credit to the people of Navantia S.A. and everyone involved with the SEA 1654-3 program, particularly with the challenges presented by COVID-19," de Sarría added.
Once in service, the AORs will operate in a joint manner with the wider maritime force and Australian Defence Force to provide operational support for the deployed naval or combat forces operating far from the port on the high seas for longer periods.
De Sarría said, "We acknowledge the efforts and contributions made by all our subcontractors, including Navantia Australia personnel, Teekay, Raytheon, SAAB, the Royal Australian Navy and the Department of Defence located not only in Ferrol, but also in Canberra and Sydney."
The two Supply Class AORs will bare the storied names HMA Ships Supply (II) and Stalwart (III) once commissioned. The lead ship, Supply, was laid down on 18 November 2017 and then launched at the Navantia Shipyards in Ferrol, Spain, on 24 November 2018.
Based on the Spanish Navy's Cantabria Class vessel, the new AORs will replace Durance Class HMAS Success and the commercial tanker-based HMAS Sirius.
The ships are intended to carry fuel, dry cargo, water, food, ammunition, equipment and spare parts to provide operational support for the deployed naval or combat forces operating far from the port on the high seas for longer periods.
The following day, in accordance with shipbuilding tradition, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, positioned a coin under where the hull will be constructed for Stalwart.
In addition to replenishment, the vessels can be used to combat against environmental pollution at sea, provide logistics support for the armed forces, and to support humanitarian and disaster relief operations following a natural disaster.