A new regional support craft destined for Army’s 51st Far North Queensland Regiment (51FNQR) is undergoing sea trials in Yamba on NSW north coast, as boat manufacturer Yamba Welding & Engineering (YWE) prepares to hand over the craft to the ADF later this month.
CAPTION: 51st Far North Queensland Regiment’s new regional support craft on sea trials. Photo courtesy The Whiskey Project Group.
Heralding a new maritime capability for the Regional Force Surveillance Group (RFSG) fleet, the 12.5m Naiad is designed for a number of mission sets, including boosting Army’s sovereign border protection activities in north Queensland.
This new watercraft is sister vessel to a series of Australian Border Force (ABF) Naiads that were delivered by YWE in 2019 for use in a variety of Australian coastal regions as part of Operation Sovereign Borders.
It will also join an 11.3m Naiad in operation on Thursday Island by Queensland Police.
The regional support craft will provide a spectrum of marine support operations to Regional Force Surveillance Units (RFSU) including search, rescue and recovery (SAR), casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), stores and equipment transfer, community engagement and surveillance.
A key capability of this vessel is its performance and handling in complex bodies of water and highly variable maritime conditions, as it facilitates personnel movement within the Torres Strait and Cape York area of operations, enabling engagement with local communities and other government agencies.
Managing Director of The Whiskey Project Group, parent company of Naiad and YWE Darren Schuback said that for more than 20 years, Australia and New Zealand’s coast guard, rescue, patrol and Defence agencies have relied on Naiad’s performance and handling in some of the world’s most challenging maritime conditions.
“The recent extreme weather events experienced in northern NSW provided opportunity for the Naiad to demonstrate its performance and handling in elevated sea states, with sea trial operations undertaken in up to Sea State 5,” Mr Schuback said.
Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan praised the development and local manufacture of the Naiad in Yamba.
“It is a testament to the capability of our region, that this vessel is made here in Yamba by skilled local professionals is to be used in a national capacity.”
“In addition to national defence recognition, the production of the regional support craft is a welcome boost to our community, creating jobs and bolstering the local economy”.
Mr Schuback said that as an Australian Defence industry business Whiskey Project Group was proud to deliver a 100% sovereign capability advantage to Army.
“We are delighted to demonstrate how all of Australia benefits when the solution is a superior-performing vessel, built from the ground up, right here in Australia.
“It benefits our regional Torres Strait neighbours and far-north Queensland communities, it benefits the regiment, it benefits Operation Sovereign Borders and it benefits Australia’s maritime industry, our manufacturing skills, training and employment.
“But most importantly, it benefits the end user who receives a fit-for-purpose vessel that will enhance their ability to safely undertake the variety of maritime missions they perform each day.”
The regional support craft will be based on Thursday Island, a remote locality that influenced a number of key capability requirements including stability, safety, consistent performance and handling in difficult sea states, and the necessity for the vessel to operate on diesel fuel.
To best meet the performance capability requirements of the vessel with a diesel fuel system, Army selected COX CXO300 outboards – a new generation of diesel power which is a light-weight and robust marine propulsion option that requires 25% less fuel than an equivalent gasoline outboard but offers 650Nm of engine torque.
The first of their type in Australia, these COX diesel outboards are designed to last three times longer than a gasoline equivalent, and combine exceptional performance with the reassurance of proven V8 diesel technology.
A spokesperson from Power Equipment Pty Ltd said the CXO300 diesel outboard had been designed and built specifically for marine use – the first of its kind..