Minesweeper Auxiliary (Small) - MSA
Australian Shipbuilding Industries, Fremantle
|Dimensions & Displacement|
|Machinery||1 Mirrlees Blackstone Diesel|
MSA Brolga was purchased for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1988.
Originally named MV Lumen, she was built in Fremantle in 1975 as a lighthouse tender based at the Navigational Aids Section, Newfarm, Brisbane. In that capacity she worked mainly around Torres Island and in North Queensland waters supporting both manned and unmanned lights.
Lumen’s major task was the re-supply of acetylene for the lights, however, as solar technology developed many of them were converted from gas to electricity and she became redundant in her support role.
The Department of Transport and Communications consequently offered her up to open tender for disposal around the same time that the RAN’s Minesweeping Project was looking to lease vessels to trial various developmental minesweeping and surveillance equipment. An evaluation of MV Lumen presented a far more cost effective solution and she was subsequently acquired and renamed Auxiliary Minesweeper (AM) Brolga in a ceremony at HMAS Moreton, Brisbane, on 10 February 1988.
Brolga was a steel-hulled vessel of 28.45 metres in length with a crew of 17. Throughout her commission in the RAN she performed a variety of tasks in support of minesweeping trials and development and played a key role in the testing of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation’s Influence Minesweep in 1989. This magnetic device was designed for towing behind suitable vessels to safely detonate magnetic mines intended for use against large ships.
Brolga was based at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney and was consistently used in mine location and recovery work as part of the RAN’s mine countermeasures force.
In August 1999 she deployed to Bougainville in support of the combined Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) where she provided support to the Australian Army and PMG personnel. She arrived in the operational area on 3 August 1999 and remained there until relieved by MSA Wallaroo, another auxiliary minesweeper, on Monday 13 September 1999. She then returned to Sydney for a period of maintenance.
Brolga again deployed for operation duty in Bougainville in September 2000 in support of Operation BELISI II where she was Commander of Task Group 627.9. In that capacity she provided ongoing support to numerous elements of the PMG and was frequently involved in patrol insertion and peace monitoring activities throughout the region. Brolga’s deployment to Bougainville lasted seven months during which time her small crew was rotated several times to provide them with respite. She returned to Sydney on 13 Mar 2001 and in recognition of her efforts as part of the PMG her crews were awarded the Australian Service Medal with clasp BOUGAINVILLE.
Throughout the remainder of her commission Brolga continued to provide the RAN with valuable service. She was involved in further mine countermeasures and trials work, boarding party training as well as participating in a number of major exercises along the eastern seaboard. This included participating in the combined operations exercise Tandem Thrust, Australia’s major biennial training exercise with United States forces, conducted in the Shoalwater Bay area in Queensland. The exercise involved more than 12 000 Australian and 15 000 American personnel as well as 32 ships and some 200 aircraft.
With the completion of the delivery of the six Huon Class Minehunter Coastal vessels in 2002, Brolga became redundant for the second time in her life and was subsequently decommissioned and sold for $255 000. She has since returned to her port of origin in Fremantle, WA.