The Navy’s first Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) has arrived at its Australian home for the next 12 months in Victoria.
The LHDs are the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy and testimony to this was the fact that it was visible on the horizon almost 2 hours before entering the port. It is interesting to note that the hull that is to be designated as HMAS Canberra sailed past its namesake which is now a artificial reef near the entrance to The Rip at Ocean grove.
Over a hundred interested locals braved a cold sea breeze between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff to welcome its arrival. Everyone from ex navy members, enthusiasts as well as school children were gathered on the foreshore to watch a moment in history sail pass. Local and retired harbour pilot “Taff” Henry said “I have seen hundreds of ships enter the bay over the years but this is an inspiring sight.”
The Minister for Defence Materiel The Hon. Jason Clare as well as Mr Bill Saltzer, the Director of Maritime for BAE Systems, were also on hand at the infamous “Rip” to welcome the ship into Port Philip Bay. Minister Clare stated that “The ship would be extremely capable and was designed deploy a lot of troops of a long distance in a very short period of time.”
The LHD01 hull has been transported from Spain to Australia by a Heavy Lift Ship, Blue Marlin. The trip has taken around eight weeks.
The Dockwise owned Heavy Lift Ship, MV Blue Marlin has travelled around 12,000 nautical miles ( approx 18,520 km) to deliver the first LHD.
Senior Project Manager for Dockwise, Frank Berrens, said that he was proud the company could assist in the delivery and provide the hull to BAE Systems ready to commence work on the next phase.
The LHD will be floated off the Blue Marlin over the next two weeks and then towed into the BAE facility at Williamstown.
The Canberra Class LHDs are bigger than Australia’s last aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. When completed they will be more than 230 metres long, 27.5 metres high and weigh around 27,500 tonnes.
Each ship can carry a combined armed battlegroup of more than 1100 personnel, 100 armoured vehicles and 12 helicopters and features a 40-bed hospital.
The LHD is expected to be introduced into Royal Australian Navy service in 2014 and will be jointly crewed by members of the Navy, Army and Air Force.
Operational concepts, individual training and facilities issues are examples of the work being carried out by the Joint Amphibious Capability Implementation Team.
Naval Today Staff,October 17, 2012; Image: Australian Navy