Generating over 7,000 kilowatts of power each, the two V16 MAN diesel generators onboard HMAS Canberra power everything from the azimuth pods for propulsion to the light in your bunk for reading.
One of these generators underwent a major service recently while the ship was at sea conducting First of Class Flight Trials off the east Australian coast.
Canberra’s Propulsion Work Centre Manger, Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Jim Soar said conducting the diesel service while underway means there is less work for his team when the ship returns to Sydney.
“This type of planned maintenance wouldn’t normally happen at sea,” Chief Petty Officer Soar said.
“This will mean more respite for engineering sailors when we come alongside instead of having to work long hours to keep the ship in a seaworthy state.”
Several teams of engineers came together to conduct the maintenance. MAN Diesel Superintendent Engineers Daniel Cooper and Douglas Merredith supplied the subject matter expertise along with Navantia Engineer, Pedro Zueco from Spain.
Canberra’s Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Suzie Bishop said she appreciates that the assistance to meet the maintenance workload can also capture training needs.
“Having MAN Diesel Subject Matter Experts onboard, with Fleet Support Unit, has turned this maintenance activity into a training and professional advancement activity for all,” Lieutenant Commander Bishop said.
“This was all achieved without having to schedule an additional period alongside.”
Engineering Officer, Commander Dave Walter said that this is a part of a more strategic intent for Canberra.
“The Landing Helicopter Dock is maintained under a continuous maintenance concept, undertaking this sort of external level maintenance at sea is imperative to ensuring it works,” he said.
“Also, it addressed a key action from the Rizzo Review of ‘reclaim engineering’, and making our sailors the masters of their trade.
“I am sure we will be doing more tasks like this in the future, and not just on the diesels.”
Two Marine Technicians from Fleet Support Unit - South East helped out to gain experience on the engine type and Canberra Marine Technicians, Leading Seaman Troy Russell and Able Seaman James Ottrey also got their hands dirty, providing man power and learning a long the way.
Leading Seaman Russell said he had been a part of this level of maintenance before but this was the first time he had done it at sea and he thoroughly enjoyed the work.
“Being able to conduct maintenance at this level is a great way the further consolidate skill sets that don’t often get tested,” he said.
“As Marine Technicians we train for a number of years to gain the specific knowledge of the equipment we are required to monitor and maintain.
“Any opportunity to conduct this type of maintenance on a scale and level that puts our skills to the test is the cherry on top of the pie.”
Leading Seaman Russell said he has previously worked together with the MAN Diesel and Fleet Support Unit - South East teams and to have them onboard was a fantastic opportunity.
“We already have a close working relationship so it was great to be able to build on that foundation and to bring it onboard Canberra,” he said.
“I hope that as a ship’s company, we will grow to be a very successful team which will allow us to conduct larger maintenance tasks internally.”