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Supporting Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST

NSM plays a vital role in enabling HMAS Adelaide to deploy at short notice in support of Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST.

Amphibious Combat and Sealift System Project Office (ACSSPO)

Asset Class Prime Contractor (ACPC)

HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra were required to be recalled from their Reduced Activity Period (RAP) at short notice to assume Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), joining HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore already deployed in support of the newly declared Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST.


When the decision was made to sail Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide just days into the 2020 new year, the ACS SPO recalled contractors from holiday leave to assist with the Operation. The SPO set requirements based on what the ship needed in order to conduct bushfire relief — from evacuating civilians to conducting logistics tasks by boat and helicopter. Before her deployment, Adelaide required a number of outstanding maintenance activities be performed that were identified after her last overseas deployment late in 2019.

HMAS Canberra was also in RAP and undergoing continuous maintenance with multiple systems requiring reactivation and certification before she could be deployed for HADR.


NSM provided logistical support including system grooms of the galley to ensure it was fully equipped to support not only the Ships Company but also the large number of civilians to be evacuated.

In addition to logistics, NSM arranged a number of contractors to accelerate scheduled maintenance activities to support this mission. Specifically, the gas turbine, which was originally scheduled for maintenance in January, however was fast-tracked and performed before Christmas thanks to the responsiveness of the GE team.

Following Adelaide’s deployment, HMAS Canberra also required preventive and corrective maintenance across the following critical systems and to be completed by NSM and our Repair Agents ranging from flight deck systems, surveillance systems, cranes and davits, and propulsion systems.

NSM’s ACPC Supply Support team also played an integral role and demonstrated considerable initiative in ensuring the provision of stores and spares for Canberra by expediting orders for safety critical items and collating these items in country Victoria to meet unscheduled helicopter flights.

James Pierce, NSM’s LHD Program Manager said the positive relationship developed by the SPO, Adelaide and contactors made the task easier.

“It’s the element of trust the ship’s staff and the SPO have with our contracting partners.  They know our focus is on providing capability to government and making sure the ship is capable to do the job it needs to do, on time and safely” said Pierce.


HMAS Adelaide was reactivated earlier than expected, less than 48 hours of being notified of the requirements to support the deployment for Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST, as directed by the Commonwealth of Australia.

NSM arranged contractor GE Marine to sail with Adelaide and remained on board to facilitate final set to work on the Gas Turbine system. Shadbolt, another of NSM’s major partners also sailed with Adelaide to provide fitting and set to work of mechanical systems.

HMAS Canberra was also made available on time, within three weeks of notification after undergoing her maintenance.

Notable achievements across both platforms include rectification of over 40 high priority defects along with conduct of preventive and corrective maintenance to critical systems including propulsion and fire main and fixed fire fighting systems.

NSM’s contribution to the Operation was formally acknowledged and appreciated by Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, and Deputy Secretary CASG Tony Fraser who said:

“NSM’s support to the ADF contribution in this significant and challenging national endeavour has been excellent and a true representation of transformational partnership in action. Our appreciation for your company’s efforts cannot be overstated. As an important industry partner, NSM has demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, resilience and flexibility needed to assist this great country of ours in its time of need.”

The Future:

NSM will identify and communicate continuous maintenance opportunities with stakeholders and remain engaged on the impacts to the overall program and requirements.

NSM will uphold its high service level, adaptability and quick response to continue meeting the needs of the Royal Australian Navy and our nation

Naval Ship Management (NSM) Australia was formed in 2010 as a Joint Venture between Babcock and UGL. In 2022, Babcock acquired the remaining shareholding in NSM. NSM is now fully owned and trades under Babcock.

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