Under blue skies in waters off the coast of Townsville, HMAS Canberra and units of the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion have successfully completed trials to transport an M1A1 Main Battle Tank and large vehicle loads ashore using an LHD Landing Craft.
The landing craft have recently undergone an engine room modification which increased the carrying capacity from 38,000kg to greater than 60 tonne, allowing the landing craft to carry the Army’s heavy tracked vehicles.
Significant modelling and analysis provided the assurance needed to conduct live testing.
Amphibious System Program Office Director, Captain Brad Smith said the activity was a culmination of work done by a highly dedicated and integrated team of people from Defence and Industry, including the Navy Technical Bureau and the Defence Science and Technology and Capability and Sustainment Groups.
“These groups combined with Navy to fully realise and unlock the capability of the LHD Landing Craft,” Captain Smith said.
Work to enable the sea trial included the design and installation of an additional watertight bulkhead in the engine room, as well as scale modelling and testing of the landing craft in various sea states at the Marine Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN). This provided the quantitative evidence and confidence needed to progress to the sea phase trials, which were led by the Royal Australian Navy Test and Evaluation Authority.
The trial focused on landing and recovering both the M1A1 Main Battle Tank and the M88A2 Recovery Vehicle from the landing craft to a beach.
The Army’s 45M Heavy Recovery Vehicle (42 tonne) and the HX77 Heavy Utility Truck (33.5 tonne) were also tested.
Over two days, load trials were completed using all the vehicles, operating to and from the beach in ocean conditions up to sea state three.
Captain Terry Morrison, Canberra’s Commanding Officer, praised the expertise and collaborative approach adopted by the landing craft crews, dock teams and heavy vehicle operators to achieve this significant milestone.
“I’m very proud of the skills on display from the Leading Seaman landing craft coxswains and their crews, who are adept in manoeuvring these large loads safely to the beach,” Captain Morrison said.
Captain David Frost, the Director of the Royal Australian Navy Test and Evaluation Authority, attributed the success of the trials to a team effort.
“The focus and professionalism of numerous people across Navy and Army has resulted in a significant capability enhancement for the Australian Defence Force and we look forward to building on this capability as we mature the Maritime Warfare Centre,” Captain Frost said.