Navy commissions newest vessel as part of $1.4b shift

By Jackson Graham

Monday November 15, 2021

HMAS Stalwart
The Ship’s Company of HMAS Stalwart stand at attention of a ceremony to commission the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment into service. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Navy has commissioned its newest support vessel, in Western Australia.

HMAS Stalwart — the second of two supply class auxiliary oiler replenishment ships — was commissioned on Saturday and will provide the Australian Defence Force with fuel, water, food, ammunition, and a variety of cargo for extended periods.

The newest vessel marks a shift in the Navy away from previous support ships, with one retiring on Monday after about 15 years in service. The new vessel will operate out of Fleet Base West in WA, while a sister ship, HMAS Supply, will be based at Fleet Base East in NSW. 

The two vessels represent about a $1.4 billion investment in Australia’s naval capacity. 

Vice admiral Michael Noonan, chief of Navy, said the ships had boosted capability for the Navy and Australia’s regional partners.

“Both Stalwart and Supply represent cutting-edge maritime technology and can seamlessly integrate into both national and multinational task groups, which is paramount in the challenging strategic environment,” he said. 

The boat is being billed as further support for a “peaceful and prosperous” Indo Pacific region. 

Peter Dutton, Australia’s defence minister, said the new replenishment ships would support Navy combat units at sea and increase support for ADF operations. 

The new vessels were built in Spain by Navantia. Defence industry minister Melissa Price said 4501 tonnes of Australian steel plate had been used in the construction of Stalwart. 

Meanwhile, on Monday the Navy farewelled its support ship HMAS Sirius, with the new vessels set to replace the Navy’s older replenishment vessel. 

The vessel has completed 766 replenishments at sea since commissioning in 2006 — almost one per week. 

Sirius will travel to WA for its decommissioning in December.


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