Navy Capability head rear admiral Jonathan Mead said that the project will ensure that the RAN is capable of providing an effective maritime mine countermeasure capability by 2030.
Mead said: “Minehunters play a vital role in protecting Australia’s ships, harbours and infrastructure from the threat of sea mines.
“First Pass approval is a major milestone for this project that will see the life of the minehunters extended to ensure there is no gap in mine warfare capability as we determine the replacement vessels.
“The Huon-class have proven highly capable, supporting defence’s international engagement strategy through participation in exercises and operations to secure our sea lanes and disposing of Second World War explosive remnants, and they will continue to serve Australia for years to come.”
The Australian Navy’s Huon-class ships also provide defence assistance to the civil community.
Thales Australia originally constructed the vessels, which came into service with the RAN in the early 2000s.
Negotiations are currently underway with Thales to contract the company as the prime systems integrator for the project.
The Huon-class minehunter coastal ships previously provided support during severe flooding in Queensland in 2011, including disposal of debris.