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HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
LHD Canberra fitting out.JPG
Canberra in August 2013. The ship is undergoing final fitout at BAE's Williamstown shipyard.
Career (Australia)
Namesake: City of Canberra
Builder: Navantia, Ferrol, Spain and BAE Systems Australia, Williamstown Victoria
Laid down: 23 September 2009
Launched: 17 February 2011
Commissioned: January 2014 (expected)
Homeport: To be Fleet Base East
Motto: For Queen and Country
Honours and
Battle honours: five inherited battle honours
Status: Under construction
Badge: Ship's badge
General characteristics
Class & type: Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock
Displacement: 27,500 tonnes (30,300 short tons; 27,100 long tons) at full load
Length: 230.82 m (757.3 ft)
Beam: 32.0 m (105.0 ft)
Draft: 7.08 m (23.2 ft)
Propulsion: Combined Diesel and Gas
1 x GE LM2500 gas turbine
2 x MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators
2 x Siemens azimuth thrusters
Speed: Over 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) maximum
19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) full-load sustained
15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) economical
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
4 x LCM-1E
Capacity: Up to 110 vehicles
Heavy vehicle deck: 1,410 m2 (15,200 sq ft)
Light vehicle deck: 1,880 m2 (20,200 sq ft)
Troops: 1,046
Complement: 358 personnel; 293 RAN, 62 Australian Army, 3 RAAF
Sensors and
processing systems:
Giraffe AMB radar, Saab 9LV combat system
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy
Nulka missile decoy
Armament: 4 x Rafael Typhoon 25 mm remote weapons systems
6 x 12.7 mm machine guns
Aircraft carried: 8 helicopters (standard)
18 helicopters (maximum hangar space)
Aviation facilities: Flight deck with 13 degree ski-jump, 6 in-line deck landing spots

HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) is the first of two Canberra class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011. The hull was then transported to Australia in late 2012 for completion by BAE Systems Australia. Canberra is predicted to commission into the RAN in 2014, and will be the largest ship ever operated by the RAN.

Design[edit | edit source]

The Canberra class design is based on the warship Juan Carlos I, built by Navantia for the Spanish Navy.[1] The contract was awarded to Navantia and Australian company Tenix Defence following a request for tender which ran from February 2004 to June 2007, beating the enlarged Mistral class design offered by the French company Direction des Constructions Navales.[1][2][3] Canberra has the same physical dimensions as Juan Carlos I, but differs in the design of the island superstructure and the internal layout, in order to meet Australian conditions and requirements.[4] Unlike the Spanish vessel, the Australian ships are built to meet Lloyd's Naval Rules.[4]

The Canberra class vessels are 230.82 metres (757.3 ft) long overall, with a maximum beam of 32 metres (105 ft), and a maximum draught of 7.08 metres (23.2 ft).[5] At full load, Canberra will displace 27,500 tonnes (27,100 long tons; 30,300 short tons), making her the largest vessel to serve in the RAN.[5] Propulsion is provided by two Siemens 11-megawatt (15,000 hp) azimuth thrusters, each with an onboard electric motor, driving two 4.5-metre (15 ft) diameter propellers.[5][6] The electricity is provided by a Combined diesel and gas system, with a single General Electric LM2500 turbine producing 19,160 kilowatts (25,690 hp), supported by two MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators providing 7,448 kilowatts (9,988 hp).[5] Maximum speed is over 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), with a maximum sustainable full-load speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), and an economical cruising speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[5] Economical range is 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi).[5]

Each ship is fitted with a Saab 9LV Mark 4 combat management system.[4] The sensor suite includes a Sea Giraffe 3D surveillance radar, and a Vampir NG infrared search and track system.[4] For self-defence, the LHDs will be fitted with four Rafael Typhoon 25 mm remote weapons systems (one in each corner of the flight deck),[7] six 12.7 mm machine guns, an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy, and a Nulka missile decoy.[5] Defence against aircraft and larger targets is to be provided by escort vessels and air support from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).[7] The ships' companies will consist of 358 personnel; 293 RAN, 62 Australian Army, and 3 RAAF.[8]

The LHDs will transport 1,046 soldiers and their equipment.[8] Canberra will be capable of deploying a reinforced company of up to 220 soldiers at a time by airlift.[4] Two vehicle decks (one for light vehicles, the other for heavy vehicles and tanks) have areas of 1,880 square metres (20,200 sq ft) and 1,410 square metres (15,200 sq ft) respectively, and between them can accommodate up to 110 vehicles.[5] The well deck will carry up to four LCM-1E landing craft, which can be launched and recovered in conditions up to Sea State 4.[5][6] The flight deck can operate six MRH-90-size helicopters or four Chinook-size helicopters simultaneously, in conditions up to Sea State 5.[7] A mix of MRH-90 transport helicopters and S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters will be carried: up to eight can be stored in the hangar deck, and the light vehicle deck can be repurposed to fit another ten.[5][9] The ski-jump ramp of Juan Carlos I has been retained for the RAN ships, although fixed-wing flight operations are not planned for the ships.[8][10]

Construction[edit | edit source]

Construction of Canberra began in September 2008, when the first steel was cut.[3] The first three of 104 hull 'blocks' were laid down by Navantia at Ferrol in northern Spain on 23 September 2010.[3] The hull was launched on 17 February 2011 by Vicki Coates, the widow of Rear Admiral Nigel Coates, a former commanding officer of the previous HMAS Canberra.[11][12]

The hull of Canberra aboard MV Blue Marlin prior to sailing from Spain

After the completion of the hull up to the level of the flight deck, Canberra was transported to Williamstown, Victoria.[1][4][8] Canberra's hull was floated onto the heavy lift ship MV Blue Marlin on 4 August 2012, with Blue Marlin departing on 17 August.[13][14] The heavy lift ship sailed via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the risk of the ship and her cargo being hijacked by Somali pirates.[15] The decision to avoid the shorter route via the Suez Canal and Horn of Africa was made because other options to protect Blue Marlin and Canberra were unworkable: the frigate Anzac could not be diverted from anti-piracy duties in the region to provide a dedicated escort, and Dutch authorities objected to the presence of armed military or security personnel aboard the Dutch-flagged heavy lift ship.[15] Canberra and Blue Marlin arrived in Port Phillip on 17 October.[16] At Williamstown, the installation of Canberra's island superstructure and the internal fitout of the hull will be completed by BAE Systems Australia (which acquired Tenix in mid 2008).[1][4][8] Canberra is expected to commission into the RAN in January 2014.[8]

The ship was officially christened on 15 February 2013.[17] Although identified as "LHD01" during construction, Canberra will receive the pennant number "LHD 02" on commissioning; the pennant number corresponding to that used by the frigate of the same name.[18][19] BAE continues to build the vessel in Melbourne, integrating C3 and sensors to the ships superstructures.[20]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Brown, Spanish designs are Australia's choice for warship programmes
  2. Borgu, Capability of First Resort?, pp. 5-6
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fish, First Australian LHD takes shape
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Fish, Amphibious assault ships
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Royal Australian Navy, Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Amphibious Ships, in Semaphore, p. 2
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Defense Industry Daily, Australia's Canberra class LHDs
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Kerr, Amphibious Ambitions
  9. Gillis, Interview. Landing Helicopter Dock Project – Canberra Class, pp. 28–9
  10. Borgu, Capability of First Resort?, p. 11
  11. Department of Defence, LHD launch paves the way for amphibious transformation
  12. Cavas, Australia's Largest Ship Launched
  13. Navantia efectúa con éxito el ´encaje´ del ´Canberra´, in Laopinióncoruña
  14. El "Blue Marlin", abandonando el puerto exterior de A Coruña, in La voz de Galicia
  15. 15.0 15.1 Stewart, Warship's 12,000-mile detour gives high-seas pirates a wide berth
  16. Huge Navy ship hull arrives in Victoria, in ABC News
  17. Lillebuen & AAP, Navy gets new helicopter landing dock ship
  18. On the way to Australia, in Navy News
  19. Fish, Steel cut for second Australian LHD
  20. Bradley Perrett (25 February 2013). "Australia’s Biggest-Ever Warships Still On Track". http://www.aviationweek.com/awmobile/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_02_25_2013_p13-534607.xml. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 

References[edit | edit source]

Journal articles and papers
News articles
Websites and other sources

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