The model replica Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, NUSHIP Assault, has been launched in Port Ash (near Newcastle) this week - ready to be used by NUSHIP Canberra's Command Team during a professional ship handling course next week.
It may seem ironic in this digital age, but the manned model-ship simulator training conducted at Port Ash puts the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) at the forefront of international ship handling training.
Canberra will be the largest vessel ever built for the RAN, and has a marine propulsion system which was completely unfamiliar to the service until HMAS Choules was purchased in 2011, meaning that the members of Canberra's Command Team will need to transfer their professional experience and skills to the nuances of the new, impressive, Canberra class ship.
The week-long training session at Port Ash will be conducted with tug masters from DMS Maritime and will include ship manoeuvrability, ship handling in different environmental conditions as well as berthing and departing the wharf.
Every class of ship handles differently, depending on the shape of its hull and the draft, tonnage and equipment fitted. Canberra will have the first true Azipod marine propulsion system ever fitted in a RAN ship. Azipods are diesel-electric driven propellers, mounted on a 360 degree steerable pod.
Port Ash Australia has built the replica LHD using technical model engineering experts to install the Azipod system and other systems that will make handling the LHD unique.
Director of Port Ash Australia, Captain Cliff Beazley said NUSHIP Assault was craned into Port Ash last week.
“We put the ship in the water on Friday and will spend the rest of this week fine tuning to ensure that Canberra's Command Team experiences the most realistic ship handling and ship driving training possible, when they are here next week,” Captain Beazley said.
“It is important that we get this right for them, as this is the closest thing they will get to the real thing in terms of how the LHD handles and drives, until they are doing it in the real thing.”
“Despite the size difference between the replica and the real thing, the laws of similitude apply, thereby making this week of training extremely beneficial for the team,” he said.
“This standard of ship model is otherwise found only in a design test tank.”
Canberra's Commanding Officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir AM, Executive Officer, Commander Jonathan Earley and Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson will all attend the week long professional training session at Port Ash next week to assist in fine tuning the model.