Australian Navy sets new maintenance model to return ships to water faster

Defence’s new approach to sustaining the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) growing fleet was launched at the Indo Pacific Sea Power 2022 conference last week.

Royal Australian Navy

The new program is called Horizon 3 and is part of Plan Galileo, the government’s plan to ensure the fleet from Continuous Naval Shipbuilding is effectively sustained. Australian Navy expects that the tonnage of the fleet will increase by 132 per cent in key regions across Australia from 2010 to 2048.

During the launch, Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm spoke about sustainment as a capability, outlined Plan Galileo’s achievements to date and said Horizon Three: Sustainment 2025 was about transitioning capabilities into the new approach so it became business as usual.

She also revealed plans for the stand-up of Regional Maintenance Centre (RMC) National, which will act as an ‘intelligent centre’ for the regional maintenance centres around the country.

“We are considering sustainment from design through to disposal, with sustainment personnel being embedded in acquisition teams. The establishment of the RMC network is well in train, with our first RMC now operational in Cairns and our first regional maintenance provider, NORSTA Maritime, already well-integrated with our Defence people in the region,” Malcolm stated.

She also mentioned the launch of the RMC National construct, a Commonwealth organisation that will drive standardisation, coordination and efficiency across the RMC network. 

“It will act like an intelligence centre by capturing and analysing performance and other related data to identify efficiencies and opportunities for improvement, and it will also coordinate and control the growth and evolution of each RMC,” she added.

Asset management is being overhauled with a capability life-cycle manager, Raytheon Australia, in place to look after the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels. Evaluations are currently underway for a capability life-cycle manager for the Hobart-class destroyers. 

Standard commercial models and contracts have also been developed and are being rolled out across the fleet. 

Finally, there are plans underway for fit-for-purpose infrastructure that are expected to match future sustainment needs, including planning for a large-vessel dry berth in Henderson, Western Australia. 

“The berth will boost our naval capability by letting us do shipbuilding and sustainment of larger vessels in the west. This next chapter – Horizon 3 – is crucial. With a growing fleet and increasing engagement with partners and allies amid a deteriorating strategic environment, it is more important than ever that we ensure our Navy is available when and where it is needed,” Malcolm concluded.

To remind, the Australian government decided to invest up to $4.3 billion to deliver Western Australia’s first large-vessel dry berth at the Henderson shipyard to boost naval shipbuilding capacity. The plans were announced two months ago.

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