Australia's Minister for Defense Stephen Smith and Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare have announced that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will lease the subsea operations vessel Windermere from Hallin Marine, a Superior Energy Services company, to reinforce the RAN's amphibious capability during the Australian region cyclone season which commences in November.
The vessel was chartered through P & O Maritime Services in a A$9.4 million contract. The Windermere is being chartered from 14 October 2011 to 31 January 2012 with the option of extending to the end of February 2012.
Designed and built to Hallin's specification, the Windermere was launched in 2010 and the vessel is capable of supporting 100 passengers plus 20 crews. Facilities on board include a 700 m2 deck plus an elevated helipad at the bow.
The Windermere will operate as part of a three-vessel fleet including HMAS Choules which is scheduled to arrive in December and HMAS Tobruk which is currently being prepared for duty. The Windermere will form a key element of the RAN's humanitarian relief obligations, operating as an accommodation support vessel in support of the RAN activities.
Windermere is the second of two vessels from the Hallin fleet to be mobilised to Australia with the Carlisle already operating off Western Australia on the Gorgon Development and has the versatility to provide additional subsea and saturation diving services if required.
The 2011 to 2012 Australian region cyclone season is an event in the ongoing cycle of tropical cyclone formation. It will officially start on 1 November 2011 and end on 30 April 2012. Tropical cyclones in the region are monitored by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane; TCWC Jakarta in Indonesia; and TCWC Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.