Deputy Chief of Navy - On the Record

Published on RADM Michael Noonan (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

HMAS Canberra at Fleet Base East  (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
HMAS Canberra at Fleet Base East

Deputy Chief of Navy has responded to an article in the Daily Telegraph about maintenance and operability of the Canberra class amphibious ships.

The article by Mr Matthew Benns in the Daily Telegraph, “What a ship fight” 25 April, is incorrect and misleading in its assertions.

Defence has maintained and operated HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide in accordance with the builders specifications, including the oils and lubricants used in their operation.

Defence’s leadership is not “baffled” by these emergent issues, but it is still too early to determine the full extent of this emergent work. Defence has, and continues to work closely with industry and the original equipment manufacturers, Navantia, Siemens and BAE, to identify the root cause of the issues and develop the most appropriate repair strategy.

Defence has taken prudent measures to ensure the operational test and evaluation period of the vessels is sufficiently thorough to ensure they will serve the nation for decades to come.

The journalist’s suggestion that the Amphibious Ships, known as Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD), were purchased by the Government for the purposes of responding to natural disasters demonstrates a lack of understanding of their primary warfighting capability.

Disaster relief efforts in response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie were in no way inhibited by the emergent issues in the LHDs and any suggestion otherwise does a disservice to the capability of HMAS Choules and her Ship’s Company.

Defence has been transparent with its handling of these emergent issues. As previously stated by Defence, “On The Record 28 March”, it remains too early to determine the extent of this emergent work and Defence is working to identify the causes and develop a repair strategy.

It is disappointing the publication relied on speculation which neither clarified the issues for the Australian people, nor informed them of Defence’s actions to remedy the situation.

 

Mike Noonan, AM

Rear Admiral, RAN

Acting Chief of Navy