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SEA 1555 - Minehunter Coastal Project

Concept for Operations
MHC Characteristics
Technical Description
Project History
In Service Support

Project Overview

Mining can occur in any level of conflict and has been frequently employed in recent hostilities. Sea mines represent a viable and likely threat to Australia and its interests; successive strategic reviews have highlighted the need for an effective ADF mine countermeasures (MCM) force to ensure Australia’s maritime approaches, ports and offshore resource areas are kept free from the threat posed by mines. Hence, the ADF Mine Warfare Force has undergone a significant redevelopment to provide a balanced and effective MCM capability.

HUON Class Minehunter Coastal (MHC) Capabilities

HUON Class Minehunter Coastal (MHC) The central element of this force is six modern and capable HUON Class MHCs able to undertake extended MCM operations in widely dispersed and environmentally diverse threat areas within Australian and regional waters. With a limited self defence capacity, the HUON Class is capable of::

  • Mine search, location, classification, identification and clearance in deep water using variable depth sonar, remotely operated vehicles and clearance divers.

  • Mine clearance using mechanical and influence mine sweeping equipment.

  • Location, identification, recovery and rescue, or disposal of submerged objects, including submarines and aircraft, to the maximum depth of RAN diving equipment.

  • Secondary roles including limited surface surveillance, interception, boarding operations, search and rescue, and support to civilian authorities.

HUON Class MHC Concept for Operations

The six MHCs operate either independently or in conjunction with other MCM assets including RAN minesweepers and clearance diving teams to ensure the safe transit of naval units and commercial shipping through up to three mine threat areas concurrently.
  • Peacetime Employment. In peacetime MHCs collect detailed environmental and seabed data along shipping routes, train for primary mine warfare roles, and participate in national and combined exercises.
  • Employment in Conflict. During conflict or tension, MHCs may prevent mining by presenting a credible deterrent to an effective enemy mining campaign. MHCs would determine the presence or otherwise of mines. If mines are discovered MHCs would locate and dispose of them in order to keep open ports and approaches for the continuance of trade, free passage of naval units, and resupply of military forces.

 HUON Class MHC Characteristics

  • The 720 tonne 52.5 metre ships are propelled by a V8 diesel engine driving a controllable pitch propeller in transit, and three retractable thrusters while minehunting. They have a fully integrated combat system, variable depth minehunting sonar and remotely operated mine disposal vehicles. The vessels are also capable of mine sweeping, have an extensive communications fit, and are equipped with a modern 30mm gun, electronic support measures system and chaff system for self defence.
  • The ships are made of fibre reinforced plastic and distinguished by their unique single skin solid hull that has no ribs or frames and provides high underwater shock resistance.
  • The Ships Company comprises 40 personnel of both genders; six officers, seven Senior Sailors and 27 Junior Sailors.

HUON Class Technical Description

Displacement: 767 tonnes (full load)
Dimensions: Length Overall 52.45m - Breadth 9.87m -Draft 4.87m
Main Machinery: 1 x 1460kw Fincantieri GMT Diesel - (Single shaft)
APU’s: 3 x 124kw Electro-hydraulic motors
Generators: 3 x 350kw Ansaldo alternators
Generator Diesel Engines: 3 x 430kw Isotta Fraschini Auxiliary Diesels
Ship Speed: 14 knots
Range: Around 1500 nautical miles
Complement: 40

Mine Countermeasures:


  • Thales Underwater Systems 2093 variable depth sonar
  • Two Bofors Double Eagle remotely operated vehicles
  • DAMDIC Mine disposal charges

Minesweeping: OROPESA Double "O" mechanical sweep. Also capable of towing Influence Rig ‘B’.

Diving:  SCUBA Air and Mixed gas sets capable of deep diving

Recompression Chamber: Cowan Series 35 Two Man, Twin Lock recompression chambers

Combat Data System: BAE Systems NAUTIS - II(M) Link 11
   Electro-optic Sensor System:
Kelvin Hughes Navigation 1007  


  • MSI 30mm Cannon
  • Two .50 Cal Machine Guns
  • Various Small Arms

MHC Project History

  • All six ships are named after Australian rivers.
  • Request for Tender issued in July 1993 and closed on 15 December 1993.
  • Minister for Defence announced selection of ADI Limited as the preferred tenderer on 2 June 1993.
  • To meet the tight delivery schedule, facilitate the transfer of technology and the establishment of ADI’s construction facility, the first hull was constructed at Intermarine SpA Sarzana shipyard in Italy. The hull arrived in Australia on 31 August 1995 for outfitting at Newcastle where the remaining five ships were built. Construction of ADI's Throsby Basin facility was completed in September 1995
  • Lead ship of the Class, HMAS HUON, (launched in 25 July 1997), was delivered to Navy in March 1999 and commissioned on 15 May 1999.
  • HMAS HAWKESBURY, the first fully 'Australian made MHC' was delivered in December 1999 and commissioned on 12 February 2000.
  • HMAS NORMAN was delivered to the RAN in July 2000 and commissioned on 26 August 2000.
  • HMAS GASCOYNE was launched under the banner of the new ADI on 11 March 2000 and was commissioned on 2 June 2001.
  • HMAS DIAMANTINA was launched in December 2000, and was delivered to the RAN on 18 April 2002.
  • HMAS YARRA was delivered in December 2002, and commissioned on 1 March 2003.
  • Approximately 1600 companies were involved in the project with a total cost of approximately $1.2 billion.
  • With local content contracted at 68.7 per cent, a significant number of jobs were created at ADI's shipyard in Newcastle and elsewhere at the various Australian sub-contractors’ premises.
  • ADI Minehunter was awarded an Engineering Excellence Award in the National awards for 1999 as a result of the work done in producing the Minehunter Coastal ships.
  • MHC Class achieved Acceptance into Naval Service on 18 November 2003.
  • All six ships are based at HMAS WATERHEN in Sydney, NSW.
  • The Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Systems Program Office is managing MHC Project SEA 1555 Phase 2 closure.

MHC In Service Support

  • In Service Support (ISS) Contract signed with ADI Limited on 3 March 2000.
  • A Deed of Variation to the MHC ISS Contract signed with ADI Limited on 28 April 2006. The Deed:
    • introduced performance measurement Key Performance Indicators managed through a computer-based Performance Management Tool.
    • includes development and management of contractor skills through a Workforce Development Plan.
    • is underpinned by an Ethics Letter signed by Managing Director ADI.
    • continues to reinforce contractor and stakeholder engagement through an Integrated Project Team and ‘Alliance-like’ Board to foster ongoing communication and early resolution of risks.


Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Systems Program Office
HMAS Waterhen
Balls Head Road
Waverton NSW 2060

MCD SPO Director
Phone: +61 2 9926 2235
Fax: +61 2 9926 2706

Last reviewed: 13 June 2006

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