A window view of the future

Published on LCDR Jodie Wilkinson (author and photographer)

Location(s): Fleet Base East, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS Newcastle (F06)

ABML-P Shane Clubb watches NUSHIP Canberra depart the dry dock at Garden Island in Sydney. (photo: LCDR Jodie Wilkinson)
ABML-P Shane Clubb watches NUSHIP Canberra depart the dry dock at Garden Island in Sydney.

The ship’s company of HMAS Newcastle recently occupied Building 68 on the Garden Island Defence Precinct in Sydney while their ship underwent a maintenance and production period. The building floor occupied by the Frigate's ship’s company had prime position overlooking the expanse of the Garden Island Defence Precinct Dry Dock.

Newcastle occupied the Dry Dock until 14 March in order to complete hull work as part of the Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA). Once the docking dependant work was complete, Newcastle vacated the dock to make way for the mighty NUSHIP Canberra.

Canberra recently arrived in Sydney to enter the largest dry dock in the Southern Hemisphere for a hull clean and paint. Canberra literally filled the dock with only metres to spare on either side, and minimal room forward and aft.

It was a unique opportunity for the members of Newcastle’s Ship’s Company to come to work each day and admire this large ship from their workstations. Throughout the day many an officer, senior sailor and junior sailor were seen, out on the small balcony overlooking the dry dock, taking a moment to marvel at this great ship.

This is the first time Able Seaman Shane Clubb, who joined Newcastle on 31 March 2014, had seen the ship afloat since it arrived at Fleet Base East.

“It’s a nice looking ship. I can’t get over the size of it and I can’t wait to see it in full operation.

“I’d love to see it from the perspective from standing on her Flight Deck.”

Following a two week stay, Canberra exited the dry dock on 4 April. Due to the size of the Landing Helicopter Dock, both HMA Ships Newcastle and Tobruk, temporarily vacated their berths at the Island's East Dock Wall and West Dock Wall to allow Canberra to pass.

While many of Newcastle’s ship’s company were onboard their ship to conduct the ‘cold move’ to allow Canberra to exit the dock, the personnel who were not required were in a great position in Building 68 to watch the ship slowly rise as the dock was re-flooded. The rising superstructure virtually blocked the view of the sky, which then reappeared as she slowly made her way aft out of the dry dock. The entire evolution took the majority of the morning to complete.

Canberra is an impressive ship which many Navy personnel throughout Garden Island have had the pleasure of seeing. Although Newcastle’s people are not a part of her ship’s company, there is still a sense of pride felt for one of the Royal Australian Navy's newest capabilities. Newcastle can barely wait to welcome Canberra into the Navy family when she is commissioned later this year.

ABML-P Shane Clubb watches NUSHIP Canberra depart the dry dock at Garden Island in Sydney.

ABML-P Shane Clubb watches NUSHIP Canberra depart the dry dock at Garden Island in Sydney.