The HMAS Hobart is returning to service in the Australian Navy, announced by the Australian Ministry of Defence on 25 September, following a 20 week extensive maintenance period with docking selected restricted availability (DRSA) as part of the ship’s upkeep cycle.

Australia’s strategic priorities have been realigned in the immediate Indo-Pacific in reaction to China’s military modernisation and expanding sphere of influence, according to GlobalData’s report on ‘Australia’s Defence Market 2023-2028’.

The Hobart-class guided missile destroyer will transition towards force generation targets, achieved through the Sea Release Assurance Framework, with assessments for battle-worthiness in 2024 as it gets ready for new tasking. The vessel provides air defence for vessels and infrastructure or land based forces on coastlines, as it is equipped with armament capable of destroying aircraft within a range of 150km.

The Hobart is the first Hobart-class vessel to undertake a DSRA, one that involved 180,000 hours of work across the 20 week span. The Hobart is the first of three ships already produced in the Hobart-Class programme, and was launched in 2015, then commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 2017.

“The strong relationship between enterprise partners was a testament to One Defence principles” said Hobart Commander Tina Brown, in an address to the ship’s company on September 25. Brown went on to praise “the high levels of professionalism and technical mastery of both our technical sailors and industry partners” in achieving such a safe and effective docking required detailed levels of system understanding, issue resolution, and resource management.

The Australian defence budget has come under scrutiny in the months following the signing of the AUKUS pact and the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, with the Australian government allocating AUS$3.58bn ($2.3bn) to the nuclear attack submarine programme in 2023, rising to AUS$3.62bn in 2028. Australia will purchase three Virginia-class submarines and await an option to purchase two more.