The Royal Australian Navy’s west coast-based replenishment ship, HMAS Sirius, has returned to Fleet Base West after completing its final deployment.
The ship departed Fremantle on August 31 to support RAN deployments and exercises in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. During the deployment she refuelled HMA Ships Brisbane and Warramunga which were conducting a regional presence deployment as far north as Japan and South Korea, and vessels attached to Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 including the RAN’s flagship, HMAS Canberra.
During her final deployment, she also refuelled vessels from the navies of New Zealand, the US, the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, and Canada
Sirius was converted to a fleet oiler from a commercial tanker, MV Delos in 2006. Despite having a large capacity, Sirius could only offload fuel, and did not have the ability to carry other provisions such as food, water, armaments, and other items such as a dedicated auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) is designed for. As such, she was always intended to be an interim solution pending the acquisition of an AOR.
The requirement for new vessels was initially spelled out in the 2009 Defence White Paper, and the subsequent 2013 White Paper said Sirius and the former HMAS Success should be replaced “at the first possible opportunity”. Thus, the Project SEA 1654 Phase 3 Maritime Operational Support Capability – Replenishment Ships program was stood up, and two Cantabria/Supply class vessels – HMA Ships Supply and Stalwart – were subsequently acquired.
HMAS Sirius is scheduled to decommission on December 18, and will be replaced in service by HMAS Stalwart which was commissioned in November.