Australia’s biggest warship completed the first of a series of intensive training and assessment periods on her way to being fully operational – HMAS Canberra is now ready to undertake disaster relief and permissive non-combatant evacuation operations.
The man in charge of Navy’s training organisation, Commodore Michael Rothwell, says the significance and complexity of the period cannot be understated.
This is a new capability for us and to optimise the use of this impressive ship requires a significant effort in training our people who bring the ship to life through skillful and professional execution of their tasks.
Canberra has already completed helicopter trials off the New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmanian coasts setting operating limits for the Landing Helicopter Dock’s six spot flight deck.
In May, Navy’s Sea Training Group started the process of working up Canberra across all capabilities. The first two weeks were spent off the New South Wales coast focusing on core maritime competencies. During that time the new Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, was able to visit the ship to gain a perspective and understanding of the joint capability the ship brings.
The second stage assessment was conducted in and around Queensland and was significantly more complex – for the first time, the ship took on a large number of people and vehicles. Two-hundred members of Townsville’s 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, 40 vehicles and two explosive detection dogs embarked.
But it is the amphibious operations that will represent the most complex aspect requiring concentration, application and patience.
This is all due to be tested during a series of exercises between August and October off the Queensland coast.
Canberra is expected to achieve Unit Readiness across all her capabilities later this year.
Image: Australian Defence