Leeuwin-class survey vessel

The Leeuwin class is a two-ship class of hydrographic survey vessels operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Leeuwin and Melville were ordered from NQEA Australia in 1996, and were commissioned in 2000. The ships are capable of charting waters up to 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) deep, carry three Fantome class survey boats, and can operate an AS 350B Squirrel helicopter. In addition to surveying duties, since 2001 both vessels have been used to supplement the RAN patrol force. Leeuwin and Melville are based at HMAS Cairns, and are active as of 2019.

HMAS Leeuwin in 2013
HMAS Leeuwin in 2013
Class overview
Name: Leeuwin class
Builders: NQEA Australia, Cairns
Succeeded by: Planned Australian offshore combatant vessel
Built: 1996–2000
In commission: 2000–present
Completed: 2
Active: 2
General characteristics
Type: Hydrographic Survey Ship
Displacement: 2,170 tons
Length: 71.2 m (234 ft)
Beam: 15.2 m (50 ft)
Draught: 4.3 m (14 ft)
  • 4 × GEC Alsthom 6RK 215 generators, 2 x Alsthom electric motors, 2 shafts
  • 1 × Schottel bow thruster
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Range: 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km; 21,000 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Complement: 10 officers, 46 sailors, up to 5 trainees
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Radar:
  • STN Atlas 9600 ARPA navigation radar; I-band.
  • Sonar:
  • C-Tech CMAS 36/39; hull mounted high frequency active sonar
  • Atlas Fansweep-20 multibeam echo sounder
  • Atlas Hydrographic Deso single-beam echo sounder
  • Klein 2000 towed sidescan sonar array
Armament: 2 x 12.7 mm machine guns
Aircraft carried: 1 x AS 350B Squirrel (not permanently embarked)

Design and construction

Rear three quarter view of HMAS Melville in 2017
Stern view of HMAS Melville, showing the ship's helicopter deck

The ships have a displacement of 2,170 tons at full load.[1] They are 71.2 metres (234 ft) long, with a beam of 15.2 metres (50 ft), and a draught of 4.3 metres (14 ft).[1] Main propulsion machinery consists of four GEC Alsthom 6RK 215 diesel generators, which supply two Alsthom electric motors, each driving a propeller shaft.[1] A Schottel bow thruster is fitted for additional manoeuvrability.[1] Maximum speed is 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph), with a range of 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km; 21,000 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph).[1]

Each ship is fitted with a STN Atlas 9600 APRA I-band navigational radar.[1] The vessels are fitted with a C-Tech CMAS 36/39 hull-mounted high-frequency active sonar.[1] In addition, the ships carry an Atlas Fansweep-20 multibeam echo sounder and an Atlas Hydrographic Deso single-beam echo sounder, and a Klein 2000 towed sidescan sonar array.[1] The sonars and echo sounders allow the vessels to chart waters up to 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) deep.[2] There are three sets of davits fitted; although normally used to carry the 10.7-metre (35 ft) Fantome class survey boats, they can be configured for other small craft.[1] In addition, they carry a RHIB and two utility boats.[1] The Leeuwins are fitted with a helicopter deck for an AS 350B Squirrel helicopter (detached from 723 Squadron), although lack long-term hosting facilities.[1] They are armed with two single 12.7 mm machine guns.[2]

The ship's company consists of 10 officers and 46 sailors.[1] In addition, up to 5 trainees can be accommodated.[1] The Leeuwins were the first RAN ships to use a multi-crewing concept, with three complements used to operate the two vessels.[2]

The two ships were ordered from NQEA Australia on 2 April 1996, and built at the company's shipyard in Cairns, Queensland.[1] Construction of Leeuwin commenced in August 1996, and she was launched in July 1997, while Melville was laid down in May 1997 and launched in June 1998.[2] The vessels underwent a joint commissioning ceremony on 27 May 2000.[1] The ships initially bore the pennant numbers "HS 01" and "HS 02" respectively, but these were changed in 2004 to "A 245" and "A 246".[2]

Operational history

Both Leeuwin and Melville are based at HMAS Cairns.[1] They operate in support of the Australian Hydrographic Office.[2]

In late 2001, both ships began operations to supplement patrol forces and counter illegal immigration as part of Operation Relex, in addition to normal surveying duties.[2][3] The survey ships were selected as they had greater range and seakeeping capabilities that the Fremantle class patrol boats.[3] In January 2002, Leeuwin and Melville were repainted from white to grey.[2][3]


Name[2] Laid down[2] Launched[2] Commissioned[2]
HMAS Leeuwin (A 245) 30 August 1996 19 July 1997 27 May 2000
HMAS Melville (A 246) 9 May 1997 23 June 1998 27 May 2000


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Saunders (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 2008–2009, p. 33
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wertheim (ed.), The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, p. 26
  3. ^ a b c Bateman et al., in Rothwell & VanderZwaag (eds.), Towards principled ocean governance, p. 130


  • Bateman, Sam; Bergin, Anthony; Tsamenyi, Martin; Woolner, Derek (2006). "Integrated maritime enforcement and compliance in Australia". In Rothwell, Donald R.; VanderZwaag, David L. (eds.). Towards principled oceans governance: Australian and Canadian approaches and challenges. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-38378-3.
  • Saunders, Stephen, ed. (2008). Jane's Fighting Ships 2008–2009. Jane's Fighting Ships (111th ed.). Surrey: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 9780710628459. OCLC 225431774.
  • Wertheim, Eric, ed. (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems (15th ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591149552. OCLC 140283156.

External links

HMAS Leeuwin (A 245)

HMAS Leeuwin (HS 01/A 245) is the lead ship of the Leeuwin class of hydrographic survey vessels operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

HMAS Melville (A 246)

HMAS Melville (HS 02/A 246) is the second ship of the Leeuwin class of hydrographic survey vessels operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

List of active Royal Australian Navy ships

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) fleet is made up of 50 commissioned warships as of October 2018.

The main strength is the ten frigates and two destroyers of the surface combatant force: eight Anzac class frigates, two Adelaide class frigates, and two Hobart class destroyers. Six Collins-class boats make up the submarine service, although due to the maintenance cycle not all submarines are active at any time. The issues have now been fixed and five submarines are available for service. Amphibious warfare assets include two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships and the landing ship HMAS Choules. Thirteen Armidale-class patrol boats perform coastal and economic exclusion zone patrols, and four Huon-class vessels are used for minehunting and clearance (another two are commissioned but in reserve since October 2011). Replenishment at sea is provided by the Sirius, while the two Leeuwin-class and four Paluma-class vessels perform survey and charting duties.

In addition to the commissioned warships, the RAN operates the sail training ship Young Endeavour and two Cape-class patrol boats acquired from the Australian Border Force. Other auxiliaries and small craft are not operated by the RAN, but by DMS Maritime, who are contracted to provide support services.The lion's share of the RAN fleet is divided between Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul, in Sydney) and Fleet Base West (HMAS Stirling, near Perth). Mine warfare assets are located at HMAS Waterhen (also in Sydney), while HMAS Cairns in Cairns and HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin host the navy's patrol and survey vessels.

List of ship launches in 1998

The list of ship launches in 1998 includes a chronological list of all ships launched in 1998.

Military 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.

Leeuwin-class survey vessel
Royal Australian Navy


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