Chris Sattler photo.
The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, and Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, today announced that the amphibious ship HMAS Kanimbla would be decommissioned.
In September 2010 the Chief of Navy imposed an operational pause on HMAS Ships Kanimbla due to seaworthiness concerns.
Since then, Defence has assessed the future of HMAS Kanimbla.
This included a detailed assessment of the capability provided by HMAS Kanimbla, an assessment of its materiel state and a cost and risk assessment.
The outcome of this assessment is that the most cost effective and lowest risk option is to decommission HMAS Kanimbla.
The cost to complete the extensive remediation work required on HMAS Kanimbla is estimated to be up to $35 million.
HMAS Kanimbla would not on that basis be available for operations until at least mid-2012. HMAS Kanimbla was scheduled in any event to be decommissioned at the end of 2014.
It does not represent value for money to therefore pursue further maintenance on HMAS Kanimbla.
Accordingly, on the basis of advice and recommendations from the Chief of Navy and the Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation, the Government has agreed to decommission HMAS Kanimbla.
This announcement follows a number of announcements relating to Navy’s amphibious capability in 2011.
In February the Government announced that HMAS Manoora would be decommissioned on the advice of the Chief of Navy that the ship was beyond economical repair to bring it back into operational service, given the vessel’s remaining planned life.
HMAS Manoora was formally decommissioned in May.
The Government also announced in February that it was pursuing the acquisition of the United Kingdom amphibious ship the RFA Largs Bay. The Government indicated at the time that, should this acquisition proceed, it would consider the decommissioning of the HMAS Kanimbla.
In April the Government announced that it had successfully acquired Largs Bay for £65 million (approximately $100 million).
Largs Bay will be commissioned into Navy service as HMAS Choules in honour of Mr Claude Choules, the last known veteran to have served on active service in the First World War.
HMAS Choules is expected to arrive in Australia for a commissioning ceremony in Fremantle in December 2011.
HMAS Tobruk has been docked in Sydney since May while Defence undertakes scheduled maintenance to further assure the safety and reliability of the ship and to return it to 48 hours readiness notice.
Defence has previously chartered the P&O vessel Aurora Australis from May to 12 August to provide a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief sealift response vessel.
HMAS Tobruk is currently in the final phase of its scheduled maintenance period and is expected to be available for sea for a short period of time from end August to early September before it undergoes further scheduled and previously announced work to prepare it for the cyclone season which commences in November.
To provide an amphibious transport capability while HMAS Tobruk is prepared for cyclone season, Defence has negotiated the availability of the Australian Customs Vessel Ocean Protector to provide a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief sealift response vessel from 12 August until 14 October 2011.
The Ocean Protector is in addition to Australia’s agreement with New Zealand that the New Zealand amphibious lift ship HMNZS Canterbury would be made available as part of the joint Pacific-focused Ready Response Force, subject to any operational requirements in New Zealand.
Navy continues to examine amphibious transport ship options from 14 October in addition to HMAS Tobruk in the lead up to the arrival of HMAS Choules at the end of this year.