The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has launched a new defence maritime science research vessel built by New South Wales (NSW)-based company Steber International.

Known as ‘R/V Ginan’, the vessel is 12m long and is part of a $1.39m (A$1.8m) project to support defence maritime research.

The DoD’s Science and Technology Group (DSTG) conducts research in multiple areas, as well as supports the Royal Australian Navy’s mine countermeasures programmes.

R/V Ginan will be primarily deployed in the Sydney Harbour and Jervis Bay regions of NSW and used for science and technology trials in coastal waters.

Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said: “We have a long history of working with Steber International and have been supported by Cummins South Pacific, Olectric Systems and a number of small service providers in the mid-north NSW coast area.

“This has enabled us to strengthen defence capability.

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“While the vessel will initially focus on the development and testing of maritime robotic and autonomous systems, its versatility means it will also be used to support a range of programmes, including hydrographic survey and ocean sciences.”

The vessel will replace the timber Army Work Boat, which has served defence science for over three decades.

NSW Lyne Member Dr David Gillespie said R/V Ginan was named after the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ word Ginan.

The name Ginan represents a dilly bag filled with ‘special songs of knowledge’.

Gillespie said: “For the Wardaman people of Northern Australia, it also refers to the fifth brightest star in the Southern Cross.”

“This project is clear evidence of our government’s commitment to using Aussie know-how in the regions to grow our defence capability.”

Earlier this month, the Australian Department of Defence announced an investment of nearly $120m (A$155m) in new and upgraded facilities at naval base HMAS Cairns.

In January, Australia said it would invest A$1bn ($770m) to boost naval capabilities and improve its maritime security as part of a larger defence upgrade programme.