Australian Navy’s brand new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) Landing Craft have been out and about on Sydney Harbour and local waterways as NUSHIP Canberra personnel continue their training on this exciting new capability.
The LHD Landing Craft (LLC) are scheduled to be handed over to Canberra in the coming months. In the mean time, the Canberra teams who will be driving, crewing and maintaining the vessels are undertaking further contractor training based at HMAS Waterhen.
Commander Surface Force, Commodore Jonathan Mead, joined Canberra’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir, during a visit onboard an LLC to witness first hand aspects of the new landing craft.
“It was an excellent opportunity to see NUSHIP Canberra coxswains and crew demonstrate the skills they have learned in handling these brand new landing craft as part of their graduated training process,” Commodore Mead said.
The 23 metre, 56 tonne (unloaded) craft have two water jet propulsion units giving the LLCs a longer range, outstanding manoeuvrability, increase speed and more power compared to current in-service ADF landing craft.
Canberra LLC coxswain Leading Seaman Boatswain Mate Michael Hines said he was proud to demonstrate the new craft.
“It was great to have Commodore Surface Force and the Commanding Officer onboard to demonstrate the skills we have developed and expose them to some of the challenges that we will potentially face when operating these craft,” Leading Seaman Hines said.
“It is a huge responsibility that someone of my rank will be in charge of a 56 tonne vessel and crew that will be operating potentially many miles from the LHD.
“I had the opportunity to demonstrate a beach landing and also to show the Commodore the wheelhouse and the layout of the console,” Leading Seaman Hines said.
Canberra’s Dock Officer, Lieutenant Commander Michael Nipperess said his department was very fortunate to soon become the first custodians of the new LLCs.
“The LLCs are one of the ‘jewels in the crown” as part of the overall capability of the Landing Helicopter Dock,” Lieutenant Commander Nipperess said.
“I have been really impressed with the Canberra teams who have built up such an excellent skill level in a relatively short period of time on these brand new craft,” he said.
Each LHD will be assigned six LLCs, but can only carry four at any one time. The extra two craft will be used for training at the LLC school and also provide redundancy for periods of routine maintenance.
The LHD’s primary roles are to embark, transport and deploy an embarked force along with their equipment and aviation units, and to carry out/support humanitarian missions. In either of these situations the Landing Craft provide an essential role – particularly when operating in areas that are inaccessible by other means or there is an absence of port infrastructure.
Press Release, August 1, 2014; Image: Australian Navy