The Craft of Opportunity Program (COOP) was a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) acquisition program intended to supplement the navy's mine warfare capability with civilian vessels that could be quickly converted into minesweepers. Vessels acquired under COOP were not commissioned into the RAN, and instead operated with the prefix "MSA" (Minesweeper Auxiliary).
COOP was initiated in 1985, to cover the gap in mine warfare capability caused by the decommissioning of the Ton-class minesweepers and delays in building their replacements, the Bay-class minehunting catamarans. In order to equip the auxiliary vessels, the RAN acquired several Klein Type 590 towed sidescan sonar arrays, along with Mini-Dyad magnetic influence sweep arrays, AMASS influence sweep arrays, and mechanical minesweeping gear. When the Bays were found to be poorly suited for minehunting work, the COOP vessels were kept on to until the Huon class entered service, with some retained even later as a supplementary force.
Six vessels were purchased under COOP: Bermagui and Koraaga (ex tuna fishing boats), Brolga (a lighthouse tender), Gunundaal, and the Bandicoot-class minesweepers Bandicoot and Wallaroo (former Singaporean harbour tugboats). Another three trawlers, Salvatore V, Waverider, and Carole S, were chartered. Also acquired under the program were three drone ships, which could be operated from the auxiliary minesweepers. Although not directly a part of COOP, the Defence Maritime Services training ship Seahorse Horizon can also be fitted out as an auxiliary minesweeper.
By 2012, most of the vessels have been sold or returned to their owners. Bandicoot and Wallaroo have not been operated as minesweepers since 2010, but were retained until 2014 to provide berthing support for nuclear-powered warships. The drones have been non-operational since 2007, and are due to be replaced by 2013.
The Bandicoot class was a ship class of two minesweeper tugboats operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). MSA Bandicoot (Y 298) and MSA Wallaroo (Y 299) were built in 1982 for Maritime (PTE) Ltd. as the tugboats Grenville VII and Grenville V. In 1990, the RAN purchased the vessels for conversion into auxiliary minesweepers under the Craft of Opportunity Program (COOP). The vessels could be equipped with a sidescan sonar and various towed minesweeping arrays, and also functioned as berthing tugs. Both vessels were placed in reserve in 2010, but were deployed on several occasions since to provide berthing support to nuclear-powered warships. They were removed from naval service in 2014.Bay-class minehunter
The Bay-class Minehunter Inshores were a class of catamaran-hull mine warfare vessels operating with the Royal Australian Navy from 1986. Also referred to as the MHCAT (MineHunter CATamaran), the class was an attempt to produce a locally designed inshore mine warfare vessel. Two prototype ships were ordered in 1981, with the first ship, Rushcutter, commissioned in November 1986. The two ships experienced delays in construction, and the RAN resorted to acquiring six minesweeper auxiliaries (MSA) under the Craft of Opportunity Program to provide an interim mine-warfare capability, while also keeping Ton-class minesweeper HMAS Curlew in service until 1990, well beyond her intended decommissioning date. The ships did not enter service until 1993, due to problems with the sonar.MSA Bermagui
MSA Bermagui (1121) was an auxiliary minesweeper operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Launched in 1973 as Nadgee II, the vessel was operated commercially as a tuna-fishing boat until March 1994, when she was acquired under the RAN's Craft of Opportunity Program for use as an auxiliary. During military service, she had a crew of eight. The ship left service in 2000. Bermagui was sold at auction for A$190,000 in April 2000, to Mosman Bay Boat Charters.MSA Brolga (1102)
MSA (Minesweeper Auxiliary) Brolga (1102) was a minesweeper operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) between 1988 and 2003. Launched in 1975 by Australian Shipbuilding Industries, the ship was designed for the Department of Transport as the lighthouse tender Lumen. Originally operating as a supply vessel for lighthouses around northern Queensland and the Torres Strait, the transition in lighthouse lights from acetylene gas to solar power meant there was less demand for the vessel, and by 1988, the Department of Transport was looking to sell the ship.
Around this time, the RAN was looking to acquire vessels under the Craft of Opportunity Program, to serve as auxiliary minesweepers and technology testbeds.MSA Carole-S
MSA Carole-S was originally a tuna pole vessel built for Stan Lukin in Adelaide by Ante Franov (Kali Boat Building and Repairs P/L). She was commenced in 1970 and launched in 1971.
She was originally named Zora after Stan Lukin's wife, Zora. Ivo Skoljarev bought the Zora from Mr Lukin in 1978 and renamed it Carole S, after his wife Carole.
Carole-S operated commercially as a fishing boat until she was chartered under the RAN's Craft of Opportunity Program for use as an auxiliary for one year around 1983. Carole-S was tuna longline fishing based out of Port Stephens NSW. In 2007 she caught fire and sank off Catherine Hill Bay NSW.MSA Gunundaal
MSA Gunundaal was an auxiliary minesweeper operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Flamingo Bay was operated commercially as a fishing boat until she was acquired under the RAN's Craft of Opportunity Program for use as an auxiliary. Gunundaal was found to be unseaworthy in December 1992 and stricken.MSA Koraaga
MSA Koraaga (1185) was an auxiliary minesweeper operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by Ante Franov ( Kali Boat Building and Repairs P/L ) Launched in 1973 as Grozdana A.' for Anton Blaslov', the vessel was operated commercially as a tuna-fishing boat until she was acquired under the RAN's Craft of Opportunity Program in 1990 for use as an auxiliary. During military service, she had a crew of nine.
Koraaga was sold for A$185,000 during a public auction in March 2000, to Klokan Fishing of Nelson Bay, New South Wales She was then renamed Venessa S and re commenced commercial fishing as a Tuna Longliner from 2000 to 2017. She hit rocks and sank at Cabbage Tree Island on the 20/6/2017Military history of Australia
The military history of Australia spans the nation's 230-year modern history, from the early Australian frontier wars between Aboriginals and Europeans to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Although this history is short when compared to that of many other nations, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars, and war and military service have been significant influences on Australian society and national identity, including the Anzac spirit. The relationship between war and Australian society has also been shaped by the enduring themes of Australian strategic culture and its unique security dilemma.
As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts.