Australia’s Canberra Class amphibious ships confirm full capability

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Rilana Ostheim (author), LSIS Tom Gibson (photographer), POIS Kelvin Hockey (photographer), LSIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Location(s): Brisbane, QLD

Topic(s): Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD), HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS Adelaide (L01)

File image: NUSHIP Adelaide is manoeuvred towards her berth at Fleet Base East - Garden Island while her sister ship, HMAS Canberra, can be seen near the entrance into the Captain Cook Graving Dock, October 2015. (photo: POIS Kelvin Hockey)
File image: NUSHIP Adelaide is manoeuvred towards her berth at Fleet Base East - Garden Island while her sister ship, HMAS Canberra, can be seen near the entrance into the Captain Cook Graving Dock, October 2015.

The Royal Australian Navy is now one of the world’s premier amphibious forces with both of the Fleet’s Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks and Landing Craft successfully achieving Final Operational Capability.

The entire amphibious capability acquired under Joint Project 2048, including the Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra, the twelve LHD Landing Craft (LLC) and the amphibious supporting organisations, achieved the milestone in November, confirming they are able to deliver and deploy the full scope of amphibious operations.

The milestone is a credit to the officers and sailors of both ships and the wider amphibious organisation, who have worked towards delivering this accomplishment.

Sub Lieutenant Erika Peters and Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems sailor Brandon Davies on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra alongside Fleet Base East, Sydney, NSW.

Sub Lieutenant Erika Peters and Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems sailor Brandon Davies on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra alongside Fleet Base East, Sydney, NSW.

One of the officers on board Canberra is Officer of the Watch, Sub Lieutenant Erika Peters, who has been part of the ship’s company for the last 11 months.

“This year has been a busy year for Canberra and its crew with the deployment on Indo-Pacific Endeavour, our longest and most distant deployment to date, visiting India, Sri Lanka and countries across Southeast Asia,” Sub Lieutenant Peters said.

“We have been involved in a number of foreign interactions and engagements, which all helped us to build strong relationships with our international counterparts and develop as a highly reliable and effective ship.

“It is a unique experience to be part of one of only two Landing Helicopter Docks, especially due to the size of the ship and its deployable capabilities,” she said.

As the centrepiece of Australia’s amphibious force, the Canberra Class have the ability to complete operations spanning from amphibious warfare through to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Grant Davies, who joined the ship only weeks before its departure for Indo-Pacific Endeavour, said the past year had been a huge learning experience.

“This year has been the longest time I have been at sea and I have learned a lot about my job,” Able Seaman Davies said.

“Being away from home had its challenges, but Canberra is a very good ship and the team worked well together.

“Everyone’s job contributes to the bigger picture and we ensure that amphibious forces and other non-permanent crew feel integrated on board,” he said.

At 230 metres long and with a speed in excess of 20 knots, the 27,500 tonne LHDs are highly reliable and effective ships with capabilities which include six helicopter positions and four integral ship-to-shore connectors, which are able to carry all of Army’s in-service vehicles, including the M1A1 main battle tank.

This year for the first time, both ships participated in Exercise TALISMAN SABRE. Canberra has now returned to her homeport at Garden Island, while Adelaide is deployed to the Southwest Pacific.