Defence Minister David Johnston visited the Williamstown dockyard where Australia’s two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships are being completed and was briefed on progress of the project in the lead up to the commissioning of the first LHD, NUSHIP Canberra.
During the 90 minute visit, Senator Johnston received a tour of the ship and met with the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir and Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) project officers and officials from BAE.
This was the first time the Minister had seen the imposing silhouette of the two 230 metre, 27,000 tonne ships berthed together against the Melbourne skyline.
LHD Project Director, Captain Craig Bourke, said it was a great opportunity to show the Minister the progress of the project.
“The LHD can embark over 1000 embarked forces which can be landed ashore by brand new LHD landing craft, helicopters or a combination of both. Landing craft can access those areas without port infrastructure and areas not accessible by other means,” Captain Bourke said.
The Minister also received a thorough tour of the impressive LHD medical facility, the size and scope of which would rival some regional hospitals.
“The medical facility onboard is equipped with two operating theatres, an eight bed Critical Care Unit, a 20 bed medium dependency ward, a six bed resuscitation/emergency ward, and a 28 bed low dependency ward,” Captain Bourke said.
“In addition, the medical facility has dedicated areas to accommodate pathology and radiology services, x-ray, pharmacy and dental facilities,” he said.
The Minister was shown the bridge and the Helicopter Control Office which can control up to six helicopters at any one time on the ship’s multi-spot flight deck. The Minister was also briefed on the extensive command and control facilities onboard.
“The joint operations room, ship’s operation rooms and associated nerve centres will provide a sophisticated command and control centre where large and complex operations can be coordinated,” Captain Bourke said.
Canberra’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jonathan Sadleir, leads a ship's company of 380 men and women from across Navy, Army and Air Force. He briefed the Minister on how his team have been preparing to take responsibility for Navy's first LHD.
“Our training program, together with the development of rigorous procedures, has insured that we are ready to take safe custody of the most exciting addition to the Fleet in recent times,” Captain Sadleir said.
“I’m very confident in the training and preparation so far, which has all been initiated, developed and driven by a very enthusiastic and dedicated ship’s company. Everyone is looking forward to putting this work into practice onboard,” he said.
Canberra has completed two sets of sea trials and is scheduled to complete her final sea trial later this year before being handed over to Defence.
Canberra and Adelaide will continue to make a unique sight at Nelson Pier at Williamstown Dockyard until Canberra departs in the coming months for her final set of sea trials prior to Commissioning later this year.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141933.