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Huons reactivated

By Michael Brooke
Volume 49, No. 9, June 1, 2006



REFIT DOCK: HMAS Huon in preparation to deploy on Operation Cranberry. Photo: ABPH Paul Berry
REFIT DOCK: HMAS Huon in preparation to deploy on Operation Cranberry.
Photo: ABPH Paul Berry


Two Huon Class Coastal Mine Hunters, HMAS Huon and HMAS Hawkesbury, will be given new leases on life in order to bolster the fight against the armada of Foreign Fishing Vessels (FFVs) plundering Australia’s maritime resources.

Maritime Commander Australia, RADM Davyd Thomas, told Navy News that cancelling the deactivation of Hawkesbury and reactivating Huon is one of several initiatives designed to protect the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone from the growing threat posed by FFVs.

“Reactivating Huon and keeping Hawkesbury operational is one of several initiatives to provide an increased surface response capability for the Commander Joint Offshore Protection Command,” RADM Thomas said.

RADM Thomas said the recent Budget announcement included an increase in funding of $95.6 million over four years to enable Defence to operate two Huon Class mine hunters that will periodically operate in Australia’s northern waters, ensuring increased surveillance and patrolling of Australia’s high threat maritime approaches.

“Illegal fishing is a serious threat to our sovereignty and this funding recognises the crucial and very important work of all those involved in maritime security,” he said.

The decision to reactivate Huon comes just two months after she was deactivated in late March as part of the force structure changes announced in the Defence Capability Review in 2003.

Since Huon’s deactivation she has been kept by DMO in a preserved state at HMAS Waterhen, so that she could be brought back into operation at short notice if required.

Under the current initiative, Huon and Hawkesbury would eventually replace HMAS Gascoyne, which has deployed to Australia’s north to support Armidale and Fremantle class patrol boats conduct Operation Cranberry patrols.

In the near term, the Huon class mine hunters will operate from HMAS Waterhen, using HMAS Cairns as a forward operating base.

 

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