The hull of Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock, the HMAS Canberra, has departed Spain on its way to Melbourne.
Carried by heavy lift vessel the Blue Marlin, the hull is expected to take 40 to 50 days to reach Australia, where assembly of the vessel’s superstructure will take place at BAE Systems’s Williamstown shipyard.
“In the last few months, works have proceeded at a rapid pace as we prepare for the arrival of the first hull and the team here in Australia take over construction of the ship,” BAE Systems Australia Director of Maritime Bill Saltzer said.
“Construction and consolidation of the four sections of the superstructure is continuing in the Williamstown yard and this includes the mast modules fabricated at the BAE Systems yard at Henderson in Western Australia.”
Preparation for the arrival of the first hull included a multi-million dollar upgrade to Nelson Pier, where the ship will be docked, which involved the construction of a 12.8m diameter cement mooring ‘dolphin’ 35m north of Nelson Pier. Mr Saltzer said the mooring dolphin was required due to the ship’s size.
Australia has ordered two of the LHDs, the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy.
The second LHD, HMAS Adelaide, is expected to reach Australia early next year.