Newcastle's one arm bandit

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT David Osborne (author), Unknown (photographer)

The Guided Missile Launcher System (GMLS) fitted to HMAS Newcastle is slowly craned out of position. The 61 tonne GMLS is due for a major overhaul.  (photo: Unknown)
The Guided Missile Launcher System (GMLS) fitted to HMAS Newcastle is slowly craned out of position. The 61 tonne GMLS is due for a major overhaul.

HMAS Newcastle recently embarked on one of the biggest maintenance tasks a warship can undergo - replacing its Mk 13 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS), often referred to as the "one-armed bandit” due to its distinctive single-armed design.

The evolution occurred during the first week of December 2013, just prior to Newcastle entering her docking phase of Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA7).

Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ludovic Miller says work started early in the day.

“The Guided Missile Launching System weighs in at 61 tonnes. We started the removal and craning operations in the early hours of the morning, to take advantage of both the calmer weather and cooler temperatures.”

“The replacement of the GMLS system occurs after a complete overhaul of the launcher which includes over 760 line items and 23,000 individual parts. Overhauling the system is is a major undertaking, requiring over 12,500 man hours of work to be completed; the equivalent of 3 years of work for the five staff,” said Lieutenant Commander Miller.

“It’s such a large job that this was the first time it has been carried out on Newcastle in her 20 years of service.”

This work is carried out by the technicians at the “Round House”, a dedicated launcher repair facility that was commissioned in May 1984 for the Perth Class Destroyers and has since performed 12 GMLS overhauls.

With her new GMLS installed, Newcastle is well her on her way for being ready for her 2014 mission.