The mystery ship of Botany Bay

It is known as the mystery ship of Botany Bay.

The ex-Royal Australian Navy minehunter HMAS Rushcutter has been moored in the waters of Woolooware Bay for about 10 years.

Recently it was moved to another mooring in the bay heightening the mystery surrounding it.

HMAS Rushcutter was built for the Royal Australian Navy by Carrington Shipways at Tomago, NSW.

It was launched in 1986 along her sister ship, HMAS Shoalwater.

Both ships were decommissioned in January, 2001 and sold on behalf of the Department of Defence in 2003.

Bruce McIntosh, convener of Sons and Daughters of Sirius has been trying to find out the current status of ex-HMAS Rushcutter.

The Sons and Daughters of Sirius is an association of current and former members of the Naval Cadet Unit TS Sirius.

Mr McIntosh has a particular interest in finding out about the ownership of the Rushcutter.

He originally sought permission to use the ship for training purposes for naval cadets.

He thought it could have been restored with the help of a business consortium but now believes this hope may be a bridge too far.

In 2017, Mr McIntosh sought details under Freedom of Information from the Department of Defence on the current status of ex-HMAS Rushcutter.

"Although completed and commissioned in November 1986 (Rushcutter) and October 1987 (Shoalwater), the two minehunters were not formally accepted into naval service until June 1994," Mr McIntosh said.

"The small size of the ships prohibited regular deployment outside the Sydney-Newcastle-Jervis Bay area.

"The 1991 Force Structure Review recommended the two ships be restricted to training within Botany Bay and surrounding rivers.

"Despite these restrictions, by the end of 1996, the two minehunters had been deployed to locations around Australia, with Rushcutter leaving the Sydney operational area on 15 occasions, and Shoalwater on 23 occasions.

"On August 14th, 2001, the Rushcutter was decommissioned and is listed on the Navy's Website, as having been sold to work in the Persian Gulf.

"However, according to a FOI document that we requested, a company by the name of Hirena Pty Ltd, purchased Rushcutter from the Navy in 2003.

"In 2009, the Navy were advised that Hirena Pty Ltd was currently non-operational, due to the death of the owner and that they were seeking to sell the boat.

"I'm not sure of date, however, sometime after 2009, possibly 2012, the ownership of the vessel passed to Brett Devine a renowned Marine Salvage Master.

"The boat was moved to Rozelle Bay, where she was given a good going over before being sold to the current owner.

"Currently she sits moored in Woolooware Bay, at the southern end of Botany Bay, and is listed for sale with Yacht Boat Brokerage, with a price tag of $800,000 plus GST," Mr McIntosh said.

"People must have been driving across the bridge for years and seen it anchored in the bay going nowhere."