Thursday, 27 June 2013
Questions without Notice
Defence: Naval Vessels
I thank the senator for his question. I can inform the Senate that this offshore combatant vessel was a 2009 Defence white paper project to develop proposals to rationalise the Navy's patrol boat, mine countermeasures, hydrographic and oceanographic forces into a single, modular, multirole vessel. As outlined in the 2013 Defence white paper released in May, Defence will continue to have the capabilities to conduct patrol, minehunting and hydrographic roles. That Defence white paper outlined the government's commitment to bring forward the replacement of Australia's Armidale-class patrol boats with both Australia's patrol boats and the Pacific patrol boats being replaced, preferably with a proven vessel. A multirole vessel remains a possible longer-term project, subject to technological maturity and an ability to provide operational flexibility with lower costs of ownership. Similarly, the government intends to upgrade and extend the existing minehunter coastal and survey motor launch hydrographic vessels until a longer term solution can be delivered.
Government decisions on the scope and the roles of future vessels will take account of the technological maturity of particular solutions as well as the remaining life of current vessels. But I underline that this project, the offshore combat vessels, was there in the 2009 Defence white paper project to pursue the proposal of rationalising the Navy's patrol boat and mine countermeasures, the hydrographic and oceanographic forces, into a single modular multirole vessel. I draw the attention of the senator and the Senate to references in the 2013 Defence white paper released in May.