Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced on June 30 that the Navy’s newest ship, Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield, had arrived in Australia.
Ocean Shield arrived at HMAS Stirling late on 28 June.
In March the Government announced it had purchased the Offshore Support Vessel Skandi Bergen to add to the Royal Australian Navy’s current amphibious ships, HMAS Choules and HMAS Tobruk, and subsequently announced that the Skandi Bergen would be renamed “Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield”.
Defence took ownership of the vessel after extensive sea trials oversighted by international shipping firm Teekay Shipping.
The arrival of this vessel will ensure that Defence has the humanitarian and disaster relief capability required between now and the arrival of the two new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships in the middle of the decade.
It will primarily be used to transport troops and supplies in support of humanitarian and disaster relief operations domestically and in the region.
As well it will be able to undertake patrols in the Southern Ocean providing surveillance, detection and apprehension of any vessels operating illegally. Ocean Shield is able to operate in sub-Antarctic weather conditions.
Ocean Shield is the sister ship of the Ocean Protector which is currently operated by Customs and Border Protection and undertakes these patrols.
The 6,500 tonne ship is 105m long and 21m wide. It has accommodation for up to 100 people, more than 1000 metres of deck area, and a helipad.
After Defence introduces the first LHD into service, Ocean Shield will be transferred to Customs and Border Protection to provide a long term capability for Customs and Border Protection.
Ocean Shield will join HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Choules in providing Australia’s amphibious humanitarian and disaster relief capability.
HMAS Tobruk recently completed sea trials following maintenance at Garden Island in Sydney and is currently at 48 hours readiness notice.
HMAS Choules is currently in Sydney undergoing repairs to a defect on one of the six transformers which form part of the ship’s propulsion system.
Navy and the Defence Materiel Organisation are working closely with the original manufacturer of the transformer to have it repaired and the ship return to sea. The estimated time for this work is 6 months.
Naval Today Staff , July 2, 2012; Image: Royal Australian Navy