Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that Australia’s largest ever warship has arrived in Australia.
The hull of the first of two Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) has been transported from Spain to Australia by a Heavy Lift Ship, Blue Marlin.
The Canberra Class LHDs are bigger than Australia’s last aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.
The hull is 230m long and 32m wide, making it the same length as the Rialto Tower in Melbourne.
The height from waterline to the aft mast is just 40cm lower than the deck of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The flight deck on the LHD is as big as 24 tennis courts and could fit four ANZAC Class frigates.
The LHD will be equipped with a hospital that could treat a town the size of Warrnambool and it generates enough electricity to power a city the size of Darwin.
The arrival is a significant milestone and marks the next step towards a new era for Defence’s amphibious force capability.
Construction of LHD 01 began in September 2008. The first three blocks were laid down in September 2010 and the hull was launched in February 2011.
The hull was constructed in Spain by shipbuilder Navantia and has taken around nine weeks to complete the 13,000 nautical mile voyage to Australia.
The hull will now be unloaded and moved by tug to the BAE Systems’ Williamstown dockyard for consolidation of the superstructure and other critical fitout work.
LHD 01, to be commissioned HMAS Canberra, is the first of two LHDs being built for the Royal Australian Navy.
The introduction into service of these ships will mark a significant change in the way the Australian Defence Force (ADF) deploys its land forces and conducts amphibious operations.
The LHDs are the largest ships ever built for the RAN.
Each ship with its crew of around 300 personnel can also carry and embark a combined armed battlegroup of more than 1100 personnel, 100 armoured vehicles and 12 helicopters, and features a 40-bed hospital.
Work on LHD 02, to be commissioned as HMAS Adelaide, began in February 2010. The first hull blocks were laid down in February 2011.
The hull of LHD 02 was launched in July 2012 and is due to arrive in Australia for superstructure completion and fitting out in early 2014.
The LHD 01 is expected to be introduced into RAN service in 2014. LHD 02 is expected to follow in 2016.
BAE Systems is the Prime Contractor for the LHD project and is managing the overall project in cooperation with subcontractors Navantia, Saab and L-3 Communications.