Recent reporting by the ABC that “Navy's largest ships unable to join Cyclone Debbie emergency response amid engine troubles” is misleading.
To assert, as the ABC did in its reporting that issues with HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide has impacted on Defence providing support to anticipated disaster relief support in North Queensland is wrong.
Under the Australian Defence Force's regular planning cycle, HMAS Choules assumed duties as the on line (ready) ship to support any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) requirements in mid-March.
HMAS Choules is currently sailing for Brisbane to forward deploy and embark emergency stores to support the recovery efforts in the North Queensland region should it be required.
It ignores and appears not to understand the fact that the Amphibious Assault Ships HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide are still in their operational test and evaluation period, and this is the period where issues such as the ones currently being addressed are found. It is precisely why there is a delayed evaluation and introduction into service program to ensure all aspects of the operation of these ships is considered before they reach the Full Operational Capability (FOC).
Both ships have conducted considerable trials and support to operations since being received by Defence with HMAS Adelaide having just returned from Exercise Ocean Explorer off the coast of Western Australia, and HMAS Canberra recently completed First of Class flight trials with a range of military helicopters from Army and Navy.
During these activities, a propulsion issue was identified aboard HMAS Canberra and she is currently alongside in Sydney being inspected.
As a prudent measure, the same inspections were conducted on HMAS Adelaide and identified emergent issues.
Having identified these emergent issues the Australian Defence Force has put in place a very deliberate plan to investigate the issue and resolve it.
It is too early to determine the extent of this emergent work and Defence is working to identify the causes and develop a repair strategy.
These inspections have had no impact on Defence meeting its operational tasks.
TW Barrett, AO, CSC
Vice Admiral, RAN
Chief of Navy