The Royal Australian Navy, although a significant force in the Asia-Pacific region, is nonetheless classed as a medium-sized navy. Its fleet is based around two main types of surface combatant, with limited global deployment and air power capability. However, in 2009, a white paper, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, was produced by the Australian government which set out a programme of defence spending that will see significant improvements to the RAN's fleet and capabilities.
The following is a list of vessels currently under construction for the Royal Australian Navy:
|Hobart-class destroyer||Sydney||DDG 42||ASC, Osborne||7,000 tonnes||Guided missile destroyer||Late 2019||Sea trials|
|Supply-class replenishment oiler||Supply||A195||Navantia, Ferrol||19,500 tonnes||Auxiliary oiler replenishment||2020||Launched|
|Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel||Arafura||ASC, Osborne||1,640 tonnes||Offshore patrol vessel||2021||Keel laid|
The Anzac class is the latest major fleet type to enter service. The first unit was commissioned in 1996 and the last entered service in 2006. Starting in November 2003, all eight frigates underwent extensive upgrades under Project SEA 1448 Phase 2, the Anzac Ship Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade. Completed in two phases, the following systems were upgraded and installed:
Final Operating Capability is scheduled for October 2017. The vessels are expected to remain in service until 2032 where they will be replaced with up to nine frigates designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare.
The most significant project currently under construction for the RAN are three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers under construction in Adelaide, South Australia to replace the Adelaide-class frigates. Although the 2009 Defence White Paper and original contract suggested that a fourth ship may be ordered, the 2016 Defence White Paper concluded that only three would be built. Each destroyer will be fitted with the Aegis combat system and will be based on the F100 design by Spanish shipbuilding company Navantia. Each vessel will be fitted with cruise missiles and the SM-6 anti-aircraft missile. Hobart was commissioned on 23 September 2017, with the following vessels to be delivered in 2018 and 2019. The destroyers are being built by ASC Pty Ltd, although the project involves a significant amount of work sub-contracted to other companies and locations. The destroyers are to be named Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.
With the Anzac-class frigates due to begin retiring in the late 2020s, work on a replacement program has begun. The program is expected to cost AU$35 billion and a request for tender for the vessel design was released in March 2017 to three contenders: Navantia, Fincantieri, and BAE Systems as part of a competitive evaluation process. In June 2018, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that a variation of the BAE design had been selected as the preferred tender for the Hunter-class frigates. Construction will begin in Adelaide, South Australia in 2020. Australian shipbuilding company ASC will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia for the duration of the build.
The RAN's amphibious capabilities was greatly increased by a new class of two Canberra-class amphibious vessels. These ships, based on Navantia's Strategic Projection Ship (later commissioned into the Spanish Navy as Spanish ship Juan Carlos I), displace approximately 27,000 tonnes, can transport 1,000 personnel and 150 vehicles, and can transport these ashore through landing craft carried in a well deck, or helicopters, with up to six operating simultaneously from each ship's flight deck. The new ships, named HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, their hulls were built at Navantia's shipyard in Spain, then transported to BAE Systems Australia (BAE acquired Tenix Defence after contract awarded) facilities at Williamstown,Victoria for finishing. The two ships replaced the Kanimbla-class amphibious vessels. HMAS Tobruk was to be replaced by a strategic sealift vessel of 10,000 to 15,000 tons displacement, which will provides the capacity to transport equipment, supplies, helicopters, and soldiers into zones of operation, and embark or disembark these without port facilities. .In the 2016 defence white paper it revealed that HMAS Choules would fulfill this role. Following the early decommissioning of both Kanimblas and Tobruk being out of action, multiple ships were purchased and or leased to cover the lack of amphibious capability. The RAN planned also replace the six Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft with six larger vessels. In mid-2011, the RAN acquired the former British Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship RFA Largs Bay, which entered service in December 2011 as HMAS Choules.
Between 1999 and 2003, the RAN acquired six Huon-class minehunters. Based on Intermarine SpA's Gaeta-class minehunters, each ship is equipped with a variable depth sonar, and a pair of Bofors Double Eagle underwater clearance vehicles.
Up to the turn of the 21st century, the RAN's main patrol force was made up of the Fremantle class. However, these have been replaced by the new Armidale class. The first of these, HMAS Armidale, was commissioned in June 2005, and was the first of fourteen. These vessels are significantly more capable than the Fremantle class, and better equipped for a greater range of sea conditions.
The 2009 Defence White Paper announced that a new class of 20 offshore combatant vessels would replace the Armidale and Huon classes, along with the Leeuwin and Paluma-class survey ships. The multi-role ships are predicted to displace anywhere up to 2,000 tonnes, and may be equipped with a helicopter or unmanned aerial vehicle. However the 2016 Defense White Paper decreased the amount of planned vessels to twelve and stated that they would only replace the Armidales while the other classes would see life-extension work. Lurssen's OPV 80 design was chosen. The class was named Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV). The first ship will be named HMAS Arafura.
During the 2019 election campaign, Scott Morrison announced that one hydrographic survey ship and two minehunters would be constructed from the mid 2020s in the Henderson Shipyard Precinct Under SEA 1905 and SEA 2400.
The Collins-class submarines, the first of which entered service in 1996, are due to receive a major upgrade to their combat systems, with technology based on the US Navy's Virginia class. This new system will be introduced in conjunction with the new heavyweight torpedo.
In the longer term, the Collins-class submarines will begin to reach the end of their useful life in 2026. To meet an in-service date of 2026, advanced design work on the next generation of Australian submarines will begin by 2014–2015. The submarines are likely to be Australian-built, conventional submarines equipped with air independent propulsion and advanced combat and communications systems. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon ordered planning to begin on the next generation of submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class fleet. The 17-year project will be the largest, longest and most expensive defence acquisition since Australia's Federation, potentially costing up to $25 billion. The submarines are expected to be capable of carrying long-range cruise missiles and midget-subs.
According to the 2009 Defence White Paper, the submarine fleet is to be expanded to 12. The submarines will be equipped with cruise missiles and the world's most advanced torpedoes, sonars, combat systems, intelligence gathering systems as well as also being able to support special forces operations. The first submarine is expected to be in service by 2030 with the decommissioning of HMAS Collins. The 2009 White Paper predicted the cost of the new submarines at $35 billion.
In 2018 , Naval Group's Shortfin Barracuda design was chosen as the design for the new vessels. It was announced that these vessels would be designated the Attack-class submarine with the first vessel being named HMAS Attack.
The RAN currently has two ships used for afloat support/replenishment at sea; HMAS Sirius is a fleet oiler, with a limited dry stores capability, while HMAS Success is a general dry stores/fuel replenishment vessel. The navy has initiated a project that will ultimately see two new purpose built vessels enter service by 2020. Sirius was purchased second hand (double hulled to meet new international regulations) in 2005 as MT Delos and converted to replace HMAS Westralia in 2006. Then, as Sirius reaches the end of its service life around 2018, a new vessel will be purpose built. At around the same time (approximately 2015), a replacement for Success will be constructed.
The Minister of Defence confirmed in March 2016 that Navantia had been selected to build the next two replenishment vessels. The project is expected to cost anywhere between $1 and $2 billion. Navantia had offered Australia a design based on the Spanish Navy's current replenishment vessel Cantabria, which entered service in 2011. The ships will be named HMAS Supply and HMAS Stalwart. Supply was launched at Ferrol on 23 November 2018.
The Fleet Air Arm is currently an all rotary winged organisation. Previously 16 S-70B-2 Seahawks helicopters were the combat helicopters of the Air Arm. The Seahawks were being upgraded with FLIR and enhanced ECM, to improve both their surveillance and self-defence capabilities. In the 2009 Defence White Paper the Australian Government stated that it will urgently acquire at least 24 new naval combat helicopters.
The Navy's Sea Kings, which have been in service for twenty years, will be replaced by MRH 90 helicopters modified for naval purposes by 2010. These aircraft were to be purchased as part a joint Army-Navy helicopter purchase. All 6 have been delivered.
The 2009 Defence White Paper, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, stated that the RAN needed to replace its 16 Seahawk helicopters with at least 24 new helicopters by 2014. In June 2011 the Australian government announced the purchase of 24 MH-60R "Romeo" Seahawk helicopters as a replacement for the S-70-B2.All 24 have been delivered.
(Updated to reflect changes made in the Defence Capability Plan – June 2011 Supplement)
A full listing of all current Projects is available at the Defence Materiel Organisation website.
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.Wallaby-class water and fuel lighter
The Wallaby-class water and fuel lighter is class of four Australian-built lighters which have supported the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) since 1981. The vessels were originally operated by the RAN, but were transferred to DMS Maritime after 1997.
Their main role is to transport diesel fuel and desalinated water and remove sullage and ballast waters for the RAN, though they can also be used to control oil spills.The Wallaby-class craft are scheduled to be disposed of other the next few years, with replacement water fuel lighters proposed by DMS Maritime.