UPDATED 13 AUGUST 2020 WITH NAVANTIA COMMENTS:
Navantia has released a number of images of the NUSHIP Supply II, the RAN’s new auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) vessel undergoing builder’s sea trials in Spain.
The sea trials were conducted over a period of three days and two nights, and included testing of the RHIB davit (crane) and a dry hook up with the Spanish Armada’s SPS Cantabria.
“Whilst constructed by Navantia in Spain, Australian industry is playing a key role in the build of the AORs,” Navantia Australia’s Managing Director, Alfonso García-Valdés said in an August 13 statement. “There is a high level of Australian Industry Capability involved comprised of Australian products, skills and expertise and represents an investment of over $120 million.
“Australian companies such as Scientific Management Associates (SMA), Baker and Provan, Taylor Bros, Saab Australia and Raytheon Australia have all participated in the build. 4,500 tonnes of steel used in the construction of the vessels has been sourced from BlueScope.”
Built by Navantia at its Ferrol yards in Spain, the 19,500 tonne Supply and her sister ship NUSHIP Stalwart III are based on the Cantabria class. The SPS Cantabria spent eight months on secondment to the RAN in 2013 while the RAN was temporarily without an east coast AOR capability due to delays with the refit of the then HMAS Success.
Based on the RAN’s favourable experience in operating with the SPS Cantabria, the design was selected in 2016 through Project SEA 1654 Phase 3 Maritime Operational Support Capability – Replenishment Ships requirement to replace the former HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius in service. First steel was cut on the project in June 2017, and the names of the vessels was announced by then Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne in November 2017.
NUSHIP Supply II was launched in November 2018 while NUSHIP Stalwart III was launched in September 2019 and, once in service, Navantia will provide support to the two vessels for an initial period of five years.
Supply’s crew has been forming up at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney – adjacent to the ship’s future base – since January under the command of CAPT Ben Hissink, and a number of the crew was onboard for the trials.
The vessel will depart Spain in late August for Western Australia for a final fit out including the fitment of its Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), communications suite, Typhoon weapons stations, and combat system. Further trials of these systems will be conducted before the expected delivery by the end of 2020, and for commissioning in 2021.
Based on this information, the project appears to be running about six months behind schedule. A July 2019 fact sheet on the Defence website shows NUSHIP Supply II was due to have entered service by July 2020 and achieved an initial operational capability (IOC) by the end of the year, while NUSHIP Stalwart III was scheduled to follow approximately eight months behind.
A video of the vessel on sea trials can be found here.