Government reneges on local shipbuilding promise, buys ship offshore

The federal government has backtracked on a promise by former minister Christopher Pyne to build an offshore supply vessel in Perth for use in Pacific operations and has instead bought a second hand vessel from Canada.

The decision to buy the Horizon Star from Horizon Maritime of St Johns, Newfoundland and rename it Australian Defence Vessel Reliant immediately angered industry and brought into question the government’s continuous navy shipbuilding plans.

Australian Industry and Defence Network CEO Bret Clark said the decision not to let a contract – a decision never publicly announced – brought into question the strategy of providing work to nurture and maintain Australian shipyards.

Clark said: “The vessel was meant to be a key pillar of the naval shipbuilding plan.

“Now we don’t know what the government’s plan is. I am struggling to understand their intentions when they have said we want to be able to build warships in Australia.”

ADV Reliant is a 103 metre long ship built in 2017, and equipped with a 3,000 m-rated offshore crane, moonpool, accommodation for 60 people, an emergency towing winch and firefighting capability, according to media reports.

Originally built as the IES Energy and owned by Kleven Verft in Norway, the vessel is moored in Las Palmas.

According to, last month’s federal budget included $193 million for a ‘Pacific Support Vessel’.

Clark said the fact that a promise was made, then nothing was heard for several years, and then that the fact of an overseas purchase emerged in Senate estimates was ‘disingenuous’ and ‘disappointing’.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made several major defence industry promises to Western Australia during this election campaign including a $4.3 billion dry dock and $124 million to build two more evolved Cape-class patrol boats.

Clark said: “I see no evidence of a continuous shipbuilding strategy and more.”

Picture: Van Aalst Group BV/Horizon star

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