Royal Australian Navy’s last Auxiliary Oiler supply ship, HMAS Sirius has been farewelled by Navy’s east-coast based Fleet and dignitaries ahead of its decommissioning in Western Australia in December. New South Wales Governor General Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC and Navy personnel waved from ships and from ashore, as the Oiler did a farewell lap of Sydney Harbour as part of its decommissioning tour.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Sirius, Commander Christopher Doherty said the ship and those who have crewed her have excelled in their duties. “Since commissioning in 2006, HMAS Sirius has completed 766 Replenishments at Sea. This equates to almost one every week since commissioning,” Doherty said. “We have been honoured to provide critical logistics capability to not only Australian naval ships, but those from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Japan and Canada. It has been a great privilege to serve on board Sirius knowing that our work has enabled the Fleet to stay at sea to help safeguard the region.”

During the lap of the harbour, HMA Ships Supply, Arunta, Watson, Penguin, Kuttabul and a MH-60R helicopter from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross, joined the event to pay tribute to Sirius’ 15 years of service.

“Today demonstrates how the Australian Navy values and supports its own,” Doherty said. “To see so many of our colleagues turn out to farewell us was a moment I am sure none of the crew will forget.”

Following the lap, Sirius rendezvoused with HMAS Supply in the vicinity of the Western Channel. The two ships then steamed together out of the harbour and undertook a Replenishment at Sea. HMAS Sirius’ decommissioning will be the end of an era, and signify the official handover of replenishment capability to the Supply Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ships, HMA Ships Supply and Stalwart.

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  1. There was talk that the RAN would replace HMAS Choules with one to two ships of a concept design, tentatively called a Joint Support ship. This would be a combined multi-role amphibious / supply vessel. The concept looks good.
    What ever eventuates time will tell, but the interesting point is that it would bring our combined Supply and amphibious force to a combined total of six vessels.
    This number better reflects the size and balance needed in the RAN both today and going forward.

    Suggest HMAS Sirius should be retained in service.

    While not be as modern as the Supply Class, her retention would be a welcomed additional boost in fleet numbers as of today.
    She owes us nothing and has a small crew. We are comfortable in operating the vessel and suggest with minimal expenditure, her future service would reward the Commonwealth much more than any revenue from some future sale.

    Get moving on this new class of JSS type Vessel and bridge the gap with HMAS Sirius and HMAS Choules.

    Regards CRS

    PS Sometimes ,basic, cheap and agricultural have a place in a modern defence force.
    HMAS Sirius would serve us well.

    • It’s hard to figure out what the RAN is thinking regarding support ships. We learned during Senate Estimates that the large Pacific Support Vessel will no longer be built in Australia for unstated reasons. It’s not even clear that it will be built at all. Typically this was not announced by the government but was discovered by accident in questioning the RAN about future shipbuilding projects.

      I think HMAS Sirius has to be retired for reasons of regulatory compliance and keeping it in service was not an option.

  2. If it is a compliance issue then retirement is understandable.

    As to the Pacific Support ship concept, schools out on that one.

    Is it a political thought bubble or prudent acquisition to free up our limited number of amphibious ships to concentrate on the ” Military stuff “?

    Realistically we will always be the go to in the region to provide HADR ,so that will always involve our amphibious fleet.

    Built locally or overseas a single Pacific Support ship will always have availability issues over its life of service.

    All for being a good neighbor. Suggest good numbers of the Joint Support Ship concept is the way forward operated by the ADF.

    A military and HADR asset.

    Cheers CRS

    • To be honest, I struggled a bit with the Pacific Support Ship / Vessel concept. We already have them – and they are called LHDs. They were ordered after the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 and HADR missions were part of the thinking when it came to defining their capabilities. Having said that, acquiring an additional large ship specifically oriented for HADR tasks is no bad thing if cost and crewing requirements are workable. Australia also experiences the occasional natural disaster.

  3. I believe one of the three amphibious vessels is usually available for the cyclone season.

    An LHD’s connectors can land a tank, or for HADR land a construction team and their heavy equipment. They are very flexible assets.

    If the Pacific Support Ship does not have a docking well, flight deck and hangar, and of a sufficient size to carry a meaningful load of vehicles / stores and personnel, its not worth the effort.
    Time is critical in HADR.
    This requires a weight of effort promptly when help is called.

    Big navy ships are the answer not political gestures.

    I guess we will see what this government or maybe what an alternative government does next year.

    Or do we get a PPS announcement this side of Christmas?

    Cheers and thanks



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