The Huon-class minehunter coastal (MHC) ships are a group of minehunters built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Following problems with the Bay-class minehunters, a request for tender was issued in 1993 for a class of six coastal minehunters under the project designation SEA 1555. The tender was awarded in 1994 to the partnership of Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, which was offering a variant of the Italian Gaeta-class minehunter.
Five of the six ships were constructed completely in Newcastle, New South Wales, while the hull of the first ship was built in Italy, then transported to Australia for fitting out. Construction ran from 1994 to 2003, with lead ship HMAS Huon entering service in 1999. All six vessels are based at HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney. In 2006, following a capability review three years prior, one minehunter was placed in reserve, while another was marked for transfer to reserve status; this instruction was reversed prior to 2008, and the two vessels were tasked with supporting border protection operations. As of January 2014, only four vessels were active, with the other two placed in reserve.
HMAS Yarra in 2013
|Builders:||Australian Defence Industries|
|Operators:||Royal Australian Navy|
|Succeeded by:||Planned Australian offshore combatant vessel|
|Displacement:||732 tons at full load|
|Length:||52.5 m (172 ft)|
|Beam:||9.9 m (32 ft)|
|Draught:||3 m (9.8 ft)|
|Range:||1,600 nautical miles (3,000 km; 1,800 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||6 officers and 34 sailors, plus up to 9 additional|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
In 1993, the Department of Defence issued a request for tender for six coastal minehunters to replace the problematic Bay-class minehunters, of which four had been cancelled after the first two demonstrated problems with their sonar array and seakeeping capability. According to an article in Jane's International Defence Review published just before the tender was opened, three joint ventures between an Australian and a European company were expected to submit designs: Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA with the Gaeta class, Australian Submarine Corporation and Karlskronavarvet (later Kockums) with a lengthened version of the Landsort class, and AMECON and Vosper Thornycroft with the Sandown class. According to the request for tender, the designs had to be modified to operate in Australian conditions, and at least 60% of each ship and her equipment had to be of Australian manufacture. On 12 August 1994, Project SEA 1555 was awarded to ADI.
The design of the Huon class is based on the Italian Lerici class; specifically the second run of eight ships known as the Gaeta class. Each ship has a full load displacement of 732 tons (slightly greater than the Gaetas), is 52.5 metres (172 ft) long, has a beam of 9.9 metres (32 ft), and a draught of 3 metres (9.8 ft). The minehunters' main propulsion system is a single Fincantieri GMT BL230-BN diesel motor, which provides 1,985 brake horsepower (1,480 kW) to a single controllable-pitch propeller, allowing the ship to reach 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph). Maximum range is 1,600 nautical miles (3,000 km; 1,800 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph), and the vessels have an endurance of 19 days. The standard ship's company consists of 6 officers and 34 sailors, with accommodation for 9 additional (typically trainees or clearance divers). The main armament on a Huon-class vessel is a MSI DS30B 30 mm cannon; this is supplemented by two 0.50 calibre machine guns. The sensor suite includes a Kelvin-Hughes Type 1007 navigational radar, a GEC-Marconi Type 2093M variable-depth minehunting sonar, an AWADI PRISM radar warning and direction-finding system, and a Radamec 1400N surveillance system. Two Wallop Super Barricade decoy launchers are also fitted.
For minehunting operations, the Huons use three 120 horsepower (89 kW) Riva Calzoni azimuth thrusters to provide a maximum speed of 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph): two are located at the stern, while the third is sited behind the variable-depth sonar. Mines are located with the minehunting sonar, and can be disposed of by the vessel's two Double Eagle mine disposal vehicles, the Oropesa mechanical sweep, the Mini-Dyad magnetic influence sweep, or the towed AMASS influence sweep (which is not always carried). To prevent damage in the event a Huon-class ship triggers a mine, the ships were built with a glass-reinforced plastic, moulded in a single monocoque skin with no ribs or framework. As the ships often work with clearance divers, they are fitted with a small recompression chamber.
Six Huon-class ships were built; all were named after famous Australian rivers (the names of which had been carried by previous RAN vessels). The hull of the lead ship, HMAS Huon, was laid down during September 1994 at the Intermarine SpA Sarzana shipyard in Italy, and was transferred out to ADI's Newcastle facility as deck cargo, arriving on 31 August 1995. Huon was completed in Newcastle in 1999, and the other five ships were constructed completely at the Australian shipyard, with 69% Australian content in the project. All six were completed on schedule, with the last, HMAS Yarra, commissioning on 1 March 2003.
All six vessels are based at HMAS Waterhen, which serves as the home base of the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group. As part of the force structure changes arising from the 2003 Defence Capability Review two Huon-class ships were deactivated and placed in reserve. HMAS Huon was deactivated in early 2006, but was reactivated later in the year, while HMAS Hawkesbury's planned deactivation was cancelled so the ships could be used as patrol boats.
Apart from routine service in Australian and regional waters, a number of vessels were deployed to the Solomon Islands as part of the Australian-led RAMSI peacekeeping mission there. Operating as part of Operation Anode from 2003, vessels deployed have included Hawkesbury, Diamantina, Yarra and Gascoyne. As of 2008, Huon and Hawkesbury were taking turns supporting border security operations. However, by October 2011 Hawkesbury and Norman were placed into reserve; the Department of Defence predicted that it would take five years to bring both back to operational status and train enough personnel to run all six vessels.
Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, the 2009 Department of Defence white paper, proposed replacing the Huons, along with the RAN's patrol and hydrographic vessels, with a single class of multi-role offshore combatant vessels (OCVs). The new vessels, which could displace up to 2,000 tonnes and be equipped for helicopter or unmanned aerial vehicle operations, will use a modular mission payload system to change between roles as required. Although the 2013 White Paper committed to the OCV as a long-term plan, it announced that life-extending upgrades to the Huons would be sought as a short-term solution.
|Ship name||Hull number||Commissioned||Status|
|Huon||M 82||15 May 1999||Active|
|Hawkesbury||M 83||12 February 2000||In reserve since 2011; for sale as of 2018|
|Norman||M 84||26 August 2000||In reserve since 2011; for sale as of 2018|
|Gascoyne||M 85||2 June 2001||Active|
|Diamantina||M 86||4 May 2002||Active|
|Yarra||M 87||1 March 2003||Active|
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.Clearance Diving Branch (RAN)
The Clearance Diving Branch is the specialist diving unit of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) whose versatile role covers all spheres of military diving, and includes explosive ordnance disposal and maritime counter-terrorism. The Branch has evolved from traditional maritime diving, and explosive ordnance disposal, to include a special operations focus.Double Eagle (mine disposal vehicle)
The Double Eagle is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) built by the Swedish defence company Saab Underwater Systems AB and used for the disposal of naval mines.HMAS Diamantina
Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy have been named HMAS Diamantina, after the Diamantina River in Queensland.
HMAS Diamantina (K377), a River-class frigate commissioned in 1945, decommissioned in 1980, and preserved as a museum ship
HMAS Diamantina (M 86), a Huon-class minehunter, commissioned in 2001 and active as of 2016HMAS Diamantina (M 86)
HMAS Diamantina (M 86), named after the Diamantina River, is a Huon-class minehunter currently serving in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by a joint partnership between Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Diamantina was constructed at ADI's Newcastle shipyard, and entered service in 2000.HMAS Gascoyne
Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy have been named HMAS Gascoyne, after the Gascoyne River, the longest river in Western Australia.
HMAS Gascoyne (K354), a River-class frigate laid down in 1942 and paid off in 1966
HMAS Gascoyne (M 85), a Huon-class minehunter in service as of 2016HMAS Gascoyne (M 85)
HMAS Gascoyne (M 85), named for the Gascoyne River, is the fourth of six Huon-class minehunters constructed for and currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by a joint partnership between Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Gascoyne was constructed at ADI's Newcastle shipyard, and entered service in 2000.HMAS Hawkesbury
Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Hawkesbury, after the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales.
HMAS Hawkesbury (K363), a River-class frigate launched in 1943, decommissioned in 1947, recommissioned in 1952, and decommissioned for the second time in 1955
HMAS Hawkesbury (M 83), a Huon-class minehunter launched in 1998 and commissioned but in reserve as of 2016HMAS Hawkesbury (M 83)
HMAS Hawkesbury (M 83), named for the Hawkesbury River, is the second Huon-class minehunter to have been built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by a joint partnership between Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Hawkesbury was constructed at ADI's Newcastle shipyard, and entered service in 2000.
The minehunter was active throughout the 2000s, and in addition to minehunting and training exercises, was one of several ships used to disprove the false wreck site of the hospital ship Centaur, was rotated onto border protection duties on several occasions, and participated in a formal fleet review. Although still commissioned as of 2016 and considered a part of the RAN fleet, Hawkesbury is one of two minehunters that have been in reserve since 2011, due to personnel shortages. As of 6 November 2018 the vessel has been advertised for sale.HMAS Huon (M 82)
HMAS Huon (M 82), named for the Huon River, is the lead ship of the Huon class of minehunters operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The first of six ships built by a joint partnership of Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Huon's hull was fabricated at Intermarine's Italian shipyard, then freighted to ADI facilities at Newcastle for completion. She entered service in 1999.
The minehunter was temporarily deactivated for half of 2006, but reactivated for use as a border protection patrol boat, a role alternated with other members of the class. In 2011, Huon surveyed the waters around Brisbane following the 2010–2011 Queensland floods. In 2013, Huon participated in the International Fleet Review, and became the first minor war vessel to receive the Gloucester Cup.HMAS Norman
Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Norman. The second ship is named for the Norman River in Queensland.
HMAS Norman (G49), an N-class destroyer launched in 1940 and transferred to the Royal Navy in 1945
HMAS Norman (M 84), a Huon-class minehunter launched in 1999 and commissioned but in reserve as of 2016HMAS Norman (M 84)
HMAS Norman (M 84), named for the Norman River in Queensland, is the third Huon-class minehunter to serve in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by a joint partnership between Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Norman was constructed at ADI's Newcastle shipyard, and entered service in 2000.
Although still commissioned as of 2016 and considered a part of the RAN fleet, Norman is one of two minehunters that have been in reserve since 2011, due to personnel shortages. As of 6 November 2018 the vessel has been advertised for sale.HMAS Waterhen (naval base)
HMAS Waterhen is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Waverton on Sydney's lower north shore in New South Wales, Australia. Constructed on the site of a quarry used to expand Garden Island in the 1930s, the location was used during World War II as a boom net maintenance and storage area. In 1962, the area was commissioned as a base of the RAN, and became home to the RAN's mine warfare forces. Waterhen was the first small-ship base established by the RAN, and from 1969 to 1979 was also responsible for the RAN's patrol boat forces.HMAS Yarra
Four ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Yarra after the Yarra River in Victoria.
HMAS Yarra (D79), a River-class torpedo boat destroyer commissioned into the Australian Commonwealth Naval Forces in 1910, transferred to the RAN on its foundation in 1911, operated until 1929, and scuttled
HMAS Yarra (U77), a Grimsby-class sloop commissioned in 1936 and was lost on 4 March 1942 while defending a convoy from five Japanese warships
HMAS Yarra (DE 45), a River-class destroyer escort commissioned in 1961 and in service until 1985
HMAS Yarra (M 87), a Huon-class minehunter commissioned in 2003 and in active service as of 2016HMAS Yarra (M 87)
HMAS Yarra (M 87) is the sixth Huon-class minehunter to have been built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the fourth warship to be named after the Yarra River in Victoria. Built by a joint partnership between Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and Intermarine SpA, Yarra was constructed at ADI's Newcastle shipyard, and entered service in 2003.List of minesweeper classes
This is a list of minesweeper and minehunter classesList of ship launches in 1998
The list of ship launches in 1998 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 1998.Low magnetic electric motor
A low magnetic electric motor (or non magnetic electric motor) is an AC or DC motor with a reduced magnetic stray field signature.Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force, called the Commonwealth Naval Forces. Originally intended for local defence, the navy was granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' in 1911, and became increasingly responsible for defence of the region.
Britain's Royal Navy’s Australian Squadron was assigned to the Australia Station and provided support to the RAN. The Australian and New Zealand governments helped to fund the Australian Squadron until 1913, while the Admiralty committed itself to keeping the Squadron at a constant strength. The Australian Squadron ceased on 4 October 1913, when RAN ships entered Sydney Harbour for the first time.The Royal Navy continued to provide blue-water defence capability in the Pacific up to the early years of the Second World War. Then, rapid wartime expansion saw the acquisition of large surface vessels and the building of many smaller warships. In the decade following the war, the RAN acquired a small number of aircraft carriers, the last of which was decommissioned in 1982.
Today, the RAN consists of 48 commissioned vessels, 3 non-commissioned vessels and over 16,000 personnel. The navy is one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the South Pacific region, with a significant presence in the Indian Ocean and worldwide operations in support of military campaigns and peacekeeping missions. The current Chief of Navy is Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.