The Royal Australian Navy has officially welcomed its new auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) ship, NUSHIP Supply to Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling in Western Australia – which marks the next major milestone in the modernisation of the fleet.
NUSHIP Supply will now undergo an Australian fit-out to fit specialised equipment that cannot be installed overseas for security reasons, such as the close-in weapons system, communications suite, Typhoon and combat system – a team of experienced Navantia and defence industry specialists will perform the fit-out.
Navantia Australia chairman Warren King stated, "The arrival of NUSHIP Supply marks a significant milestone for both Australia and [it] demonstrates our commitment not only to the Royal Australian Navy but also to Australian industry, which is so important to support these platforms over their expected design life and more."
The AOR Program has generated hundreds of jobs for Australian workers who operate behind the scenes in the Australian defence industry. A number of Australian and WA companies are involved in the both construction process and fit-out, including Taylor Bros, SAGE Automation, Australian Maritime Technologies, Sofraco Engineering, Capability by Design, Communications Design & Management and Sypaq Systems. ASP Ship Management, Scaf-West and the Onsite Rental Group are performing vital support during the fit-out.
Sixty direct jobs have been created with Navantia Australia and further indirect jobs through industry partners associated with the AOR sustainment support program, which will be conducted in both Sydney and WA.
The delivery into service of the Supply Class replenishment vessels from next year will provide the Navy with vital afloat logistics and combat support to enable the ships to remain at sea longer and operate in areas far removed from their base.
"The local development and management of the Navantia designs by Navantia Australia, supported by the Strategic Agreement Principles document signed with Defence earlier this year, offers substantial opportunities for Australian industry," explained Navantia Australia managing director Alfonso Garcia-Valdes.
Australia’s current supply ships, HMA Ships Success and Sirius, will be replaced with a single class of double-hulled, AOR ship to be built by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. The two Australian ships are based on the Spanish Navy's Cantabria Class AORs.
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.
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 (HADR) operations following a natural disaster.
Two Supply Class AORs will be named HMA Ships Supply (II) and Stalwart (III). The lead ship, HMAS Supply, was launched at the Navantia Shipyards in Ferrol, Spain on 24 November 2018. The following day, in accordance with ship building tradition, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan positioned a coin under where the hull will be constructed for Stalwart.
Garcia-Valdes added, "Navantia Australia already has over 300 Australian companies as part of our local supply chain. The cross platform commons program we are developing will provide more long-term opportunities for platform sustainment, innovation and upgrades and enable a robust Australian supply chain to be reliably available."