Australia’s amphibious warfare capabilities have taken a 27,000 tonne step forward with the commissioning of HMAS Canberra, the first of two LHD amphibious ships being built for the Royal Australian Navy.
The Canberra was formally commissioned into RAN service in ceremony at the Navy’s Fleet Base East in Sydney on Friday attended by Governor General Peter Cosgrove, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Defence Minister Senator David Johnston, Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett.
“Through the efforts of many organisations, this outstanding ship is now a reality,” HMAS Canberra’s commanding officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir, said.
“We know it’s an awesome ship with huge capability, but the next step is to go to sea and test procedures, refine and consolidate, so we can be ready when the nation needs us.”
Sadleir commands a ship’s company of 400 personnel from all three services.
“It was a proud and emotional experience for me to stand with 400 exceptional members of my crew today,” he said.
HMAS Canberra and sistership NUSHIP Adelaide – due to commission in 2016 – are designed to carry 1,000 troops and equipment which can be landed ashore by landing craft or helicopter.
Both LHDs have deck space for six MRH 90 or Black Hawk medium helicopters, but can also support the heavylift CH-47 Chinook and the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter.
“This LHD is a true multi-purpose warship ideally configured to carry out humanitarian assistance or transport an embarked force complete with their equipment and aviation assets for a peacekeeping mission,” Minister Johnston said.
“These two ships together will be able land a force of more than 2,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.”
The two ships are based on the Spanish ‘Buque de Proyección Estratégica’ (Strategic Projection Ship) design. Their hulls were built by Navantia in Ferrol, Spain, while their superstructures were built by and final outfitting undertaken at BAE Systems Australia’s Williamstown, Melbourne shipyard.