Minehunter, Coastal (MHC)

The Royal Australian Navy currently uses the Huon Class MHC.

Originally designed in Italy as the Gaeta Class for the Italian Navy, the RAN Huon Class has been modified to suit Australian conditions, including improved accommodation and mine hunting capabilities.

The Huon Class feature a unique hull design, outstanding shock resistance and an inherently low magnetic signature, allowing the ships to operate in hostile mine environments. Each single skin monocoque hull has been designed with no ribs, frames or stiffeners, avoiding local stress points that could separate under shock conditions.

For their mine countermeasure operations the ships are fitted with a Variable Depth Sonar capable of detection ranges in excess of 1,000 metres ahead of the ship. When a mine is detected in a water column or on the seabed, the ship will 'hover' about 200 metres from the contact. A mine disposal vehicle or clearance divers will then be sent to investigate and neutralise the mine threat.

Each ship is fitted with a pair of electrically powered Bofors Underwater Systems Double Eagle mine disposal vehicles equipped with a searchlight, closed-circuit low light television camera and an on-board close range identification sonar. Commands are relayed via a fibre optic link inside the vehicle's tether, which also relays sensor images for display on the ship's multifunction console in the operations room.

Each Double Eagle vehicle is fitted with either a disposal charge slung beneath or an explosive or mechanical cutter designed to sever the wire rope or chain holding moored mines.

Following is a list of Minehunters Coastal currently commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy.

Name Pennant Commissioned Commanding Officer
HMAS Diamantina (II) M 86 4 May 2002 Lieutenant Commander Iain Hutchins
HMAS Gascoyne (II) M 85 2 June 2001 Lieutenant Commander Aaron Cox
HMAS Hawkesbury (II) M 83 12 February 2000
HMAS Huon (II) M 82 15 May 1999 Lieutenant Commander Richard Caton
HMAS Norman (II) M 84 26 August 2000
HMAS Yarra (IV) M 87 1 March 2003 Lieutenant Commander Brendan O'Hara