Minehunter Inshore
Home Port
Carrington Slipways, Newcastle, NSW
Laid Down
16 August 1984
3 May 1986
Launched by
Lady Bennett, wife of Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force
1 November 1986
14 August 2001
Sold by tender
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 170 tonnes
Length 31 metres
Beam 9 metres
Draught 2 metres
Speed 10 knots
Crew 2 officers and 11 sailors
Machinery 2 x Poyaud Diesel Engines driving two independent Schottel propulsion steering units
Guns 2x .50 cal Machine Guns
Electronic Warfare 2 x PAP 104 remote controlled mine disposal vehicles

HMAS Rushcutter was ordered in January 1983 as part of an initial two ship build using a prototype glass reinforced plastic catamaran construction. The genesis of the design was to have a vessel able to conduct mine hunting operations locating and destroying seabed mines in depths up to 90 metres. It was to be cheaper than a conventional mine countermeasures vessel and able to be quickly produced in Australia. The Mine Hunter Inshore (MHI) was to complement the intended larger replacement to the Ton Class minehunter, of which HMAS Curlew was the last in commission. In view of the Bay Class nomenclature, the ship was named after Rushcutters Bay in Sydney. It was envisaged that a further four additional follow on vessels would be built.

The ship was designed by the Royal Australian Navy in conjunction with the Department of Defence. The design was deemed a revolutionary step away from traditional designs for mine countermeasure platforms, with a number of improved features present in the design. These included the ‘catamaran style’ hull to provide stability and a larger deck area for its size, greater manoeuvrability than a mono hull, and the ability to install heavier and bigger loads high up. Thereby reducing magnetic and acoustic signatures. The foam sandwich construction style was considered easy to build and maintain and it minimised the magnetic influence and noise transmission. It also provided good thermal insulation properties.

Built by Carrington Slipways at its Ramsay Fibreglass Facility at Tomago, New South Wales, Rushcutter was laid down in August 1984 and launched 21 months later. Along with sister ship HMAS Shoalwater, the tender cost was $26.6m.

HMAS Rushcutter was designed by the Royal Australian Navy in conjunction with the Department of Defence. The design was deemed a revolutionary step away from traditional designs for mine countermeasure platforms.
HMAS Rushcutter was designed by the Royal Australian Navy in conjunction with the Department of Defence. The design was deemed a revolutionary step away from traditional designs for mine countermeasure platforms.

In her role as an inshore minehunter, the containerised weapons system formed the core of the MHI capability. The tender cost for two mine hunting weapons systems was $12m, main elements of which were an advanced high definition sonar for mine hunting, precise navigation equipment, and a tactical data system to integrate and process the information required for detecting and classifying mines. The final component was a remote controlled vehicle to deliver a weapon charge with which to dispose of the located mine. The MHI propulsion system also allowed the platform to hover in situ.

HMAS Rushcutter was commissioned into the RAN on 1 November 1986 at the Tomago facility under the command of Lieutenant Commander Greg Mapson RAN. The vessel remained in builder’s hands for the next five weeks completing her Post Delivery Availability (PDA) and completing various builder’s sea and harbour trials. Following a sea check and various initial acceptance trials, Rushcutter proceeded to Sydney to her home base at HMAS Waterhen where she remained for the remainder of the year. As with upcoming trials, HMAS Curlew was in company for any of the extensive open ocean transits.

January to May 1987 involved an extensive trials program managed by the RAN Trials and Assessment Unit (RANTAU) within Sydney Harbour, Jones Bay or Jervis Bay. In mid-February Rushcutter encountered her first limitation with sea conditions and sea states as she attempted to return to Jervis Bay over two days, having to take shelter in Sea State 5 conditions. During the transit into a one metre swell, a fin broke off one of the fibreglass hulls. Fortunately this did not adversely affect the ship’s stability or performance. A second PDA was conducted at the Tomago facility from mid-May for two months, with the work playing second fiddle to the shipyard’s priority, the launch of the sister ship Shoalwater. Following a post-PDA shakedown period in the third week of July, Rushcutter returned to its trials program working between Sydney and Jervis Bay as required. As with all first of class ships, Rushcutter was not without machinery and equipment defects. These often required modification or replacement, with many components often having to come from overseas.

Main engine problems required Rushcutter to remain alongside Waterhen from the beginning of 1988 until early May, when the trials program resumed for the remainder of the year. During the periods at sea, the MHI was ‘show cased’ to various overseas visiting delegations or dignitaries, especially during the October Bicentennial Naval Salute conducted in Sydney Harbour. For Anzac Day, Rushcutter conducted a solo transit and visit to Eden, New South Wales.

Trials continued throughout February and March 1989 mainly within Sydney Harbour, Broken Bay and Jervis Bay. On 22 March Rushcutter’s crew exercised a Freedom of Entry march into Port Macquarie, the vessel’s ceremonial port. Following a two week Assisted Maintenance Period (AMP) in the first part of May, trials were resumed in Jervis Bay. Rushcutter continued its trials programme and training in July and early August making a port visit to Brisbane mid-month in company with sister ship HMAS Shoalwater. In September, with the majority of the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) fleet and forces, Rushcutter participated in her first exercise; MCMX 1/89, conducted in the Port Kembla environs. October and the early part of November involved further trials, maintenance and leave. At the end of November, Rushcutter commenced a four month long ‘repair and overhaul’ period at Tomago shipyard.

Repair and overhaul activities were conducted until early April 1990, when Rushcutter returned to Sydney. The month of May was spent intermittently at sea conducting further trials, while June and July were alongside, rectifying defects and preparing for a work up following the extended Tomago period. Back at sea, August involved further trials and assesments. Scheduled to participate in MCMX 1/90, Rushcutter was withdrawn and conducted a further work up in October before making a four day port visit to Brisbane commencing 12 November. A continuing trials program in and around the Sydney - Jervis Bay area rounded out 1990.

Rushcutter was regularly show cased to overseas visiting delegations or dignitaries, interested in her revolutionary design aspects.
Rushcutter was regularly show cased to overseas visiting delegations or dignitaries, interested in her revolutionary design aspects.

In mid-January 1991 Rushcutter again visited Brisbane as part of a post-New Year shakedown period. February was spent mainly in the Jervis Bay area with the MHI participating in the MCM Continuation Training – SQUADEX 1/91 with other MCM assets. In between ongoing trials, a seven day port visit to her adoptive city of Port Macquarie for Anzac Day and a port visit to Coffs Harbour at the end of May occurred. July and August saw Rushcutter supporting Project 1255 Submarine to Air Covert Communications System (STACCS) trials. October and the first part of November were spent alongside Waterhen rectifying main engine defects before an end of the month port visit to Eden and support to a Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) experiment was provided.

Following Christmas and New Year alongside at Waterhen, Rushcutter underwent a sonar upgrade and modification at the ADI-NED Ryde facility. The beginning of April involved setting to work the new sonar and conducting a short work up before returning to the Jervis Bay area for sonar trials which lasted until the second week of June. Following a short AMP in Sydney, Rushcutter undertook her first long haul solo passage to Cairns, via Gladstone and Mackay, to conduct further first of class trials during July and August. The remainder of the year saw Rushcutter operate mainly within the Sydney area.

February 1993 saw Rushcutter conduct an MCM Operational Training Period (OTP) in the Broken Bay area before proceeding to Jervis Bay for further trials and to provide DSTO support. As had occurred often in the previous two years, a significant overseas delegation visited the MHI to observe its operations and capabilities. From mid-April to July, Rushcutter was at the ADI Marine Facility, Ryde before returning to Waterhen and undergoing refit. For the next six weeks Rushcutter completed shakedown, conducted MCM training in Jervis Bay and participated in the October Navy Week. In November, in company with Shoalwater, the two MHIs visited Bundaberg, Queensland en route to Townsville for Exercise DUGONG 93-2, before returning to Sydney the week before Christmas. As part of the annual Fleet Awards, Rushcutter was awarded the Pakistan Shield for sport and was runner up for the MCM Vessels Kelly Shield proficiency award.

Persistent hydraulic defects had the vessel alongside Waterhen effecting repairs for the early part of 1994. In the intervening period ship’s company were loaned to other MCM units and ships to maintain proficiency. On 24 June 1994, Rushcutter and Shoalwater were formally accepted into naval service. Port main engine problems prevailed throughout July but in August and September Rushcutter completed shakedown and work up, operating mainly in Jervis Bay. In November the MHI participated in the MCM Fleet Concentration Period (FCP) 2/94.

Rushcutter returned to sea in February 1995 for the MCM SQUADEX (Squadron Exercise) MULGOGGER. Bad weather for most of March prevented passage to Jervis Bay for MCM training, which was finally achieved in April. A planned visit to Geelong, Victoria for MCMX 1/95 was cancelled due to air conditioning defects and Rushcutter’s input to the exercise was modified for operations around Jervis Bay. In late July and early August Rushcutter participated in Exercise KANGAROO 95 making port visits to Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns during the period. On completion of the exercise, Rushcutter in company with Shoalwater conducted ongoing VLF sonar trials off Townsville. Late November saw the MHI participate in Exercise SHORTSCOPE/DUGONG 95/1 in the Newcastle area.

Proceeding to sea after the Australia Day long weekend in 1996, engineering problems required Rushcutter to remain alongside until early March. Repairs complete, most of the month was spent operating within Jervis Bay. Following a maintenance period in Sydney, the ship proceeded to Port Macquarie for Anzac Day commemorations. Scheduled to participate in Exercise HUNTER 96 in Townsville in May, ongoing engineering issues caused Rushcutter’s withdrawal and the MHI instead provided support to the Very Low Frequency Sonar Trial for the Minehunter Coastal Project in Jervis Bay. October saw Rushcutter make a port visit to her adoptive town of Port Macquarie to exercise a Freedom of Entry before proceeding north to participate in Exercise SHORTSCOPE/DUGONG 96 in November in the Mackay area. The return transit to Sydney at the beginning of December was made via Bundaberg. Rushcutter was later awarded the annual Fleet MCM Kelly Shield proficiency award for 1996.

1997 saw Rushcutter return to her now regular routine of seagoing activities and scheduled maintenance. The ship entered refit at Port Macquarie Slipway on 4 June which proceeded until the end of August. Scheduled to participate in Exercise SHORTSCOPE/DUGONG 97, operational defects throughout November forced the MHI’s withdrawal, with the rest of the year being spent alongside in Sydney.

Early 1998 was spent at sea on various tasks and participation in Exercise MULLGOGGER. This was followed by Exercise HUNTER 98 in the Newcastle area. May saw Rushcutter operating in the vicinity of Newcastle and in Jervis Bay. The highlight for November was a very successful participation in Exercise SHORTSCOPE/DUGONG 98.

February 1999 saw Rushcutter participate in Exercise MULLGOGGER before Fleet Concentration Period 1/99 in Jervis Bay. March and April involved tasks and exercises in between Newcastle and Jervis Bay. The majority of June was spent within Jervis Bay supporting training and trialling 24 hour operations through double crewing whereby Rushcutter’s crew alternated with Shoalwater’s crew, completing 12 hour operating cycles in the one MHI platform. From July to October Rushcutter remained alongside Waterhen in a Reduced Activity Period (RAP). Back at sea for the first three weeks of November, the MHI participated in Exercise SHORTSCOPE/DUGONG 99 within Jervis Bay before re-entering a RAP at the end of the month.

Alongside for the commencement of the new millennium, April saw Rushcutter conduct a port visit to Coffs Harbour in support of Naval Reserve Cadets activities. In mid-June, in company with Shoalwater, the MHI conducted a port visit to Melbourne and Geelong with an overnight visit to Eden in early July during the return trip. Following two weeks alongside in Sydney, Rushcutter proceeded for the last time to visit Port Macquarie and exercise its Freedom of Entry on 22 July 2000. Returning to Sydney on completion of the port visit, and following a families day at sea, HMAS Rushcutter officially ceased running on 28 July and reverted to 60 days’ notice for sea. Laid up for the next year, the ship formally decommissioned on 14 August 2001.

Sold by tender in 2002, Rushcutter along with sister ship Shoalwater saw service in the Persian Gulf before later returning to Sydney and being sold into private hands.

Commanding Officers

November 1986 - October 1988  LCDR G.J Mapson, RAN
October 1988 - April 1990 LCDR G.D Uren, RAN
April 1990 - September 1990 LCDR P.C Fryer-Hornsby, RAN
September 1990 - April 1991 LCDR R.E Van-Kempen, RAN
April 1991 - October 1992 LDCR A.J Lea, RAN
October 1992 - June 1994 LEUT M.D Hill, RAN
June 1994 - April 1995 LEUT S.P Grundy, RAN
April 1995 - October 1997 LCDR M.R.W Todd, RAN
October 1997 - May 1999 LCDR D.J Hughes, RAN
May 1999 - July 2000 LCDR M.D Brown, RAN