Navigating a successful visit

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

The ship's company of HMAS Canberra line the flight deck as the ship arrives in Townsville. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
The ship's company of HMAS Canberra line the flight deck as the ship arrives in Townsville.

The city of Townsville showed the Royal Australian Navy’s largest ship the full extent of its hospitality when HMAS Canberra came alongside for her first port visit outside of Sydney between 27-30 March.

Locals gathered on the foreshore to watch the newly commissioned Landing Helicopter Dock manoeuvre into position at the purpose built wharf.

Canberra’s Navigator, Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson, said that he had conducted specific training for the occasion.

“Due to the unique challenges with the pilotage and berthing, the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and I conducted training at the Port Ash Ship Handling Centre,” Lieutenant Commander Johnson said.

“Townsville has a very constrained channel not much wider than the ship and the training proved to be very valuable.”

Canberra’s inaugural visit was high publicised by the local media and when the ship conducted its first open day the crew were overwhelmed by the response.

The ship’s Maritime Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Ryan, said the visitors had the opportunity to get a close look at aircraft, vehicles, weapons, damage control equipment and the main features of the ship including the well dock, vehicle decks and the flight deck.

“The visit also provided the crew the opportunity to resupply prior to continuing with First of Class Flight Trials and gave them some well deserved respite,” he said.

Canberra will visit Townsville again in August this year and due to the show of public interest the ship will endeavour to put on a similar display.

The ship will now transit south to conduct the second phase of flight trials in cooler weather conditions.

Canberra will return to Fleet Base East, Sydney in May before commencing her first work up, testing all her capabilities.