Saturday, February 19, 2011

Australia's first LHD ship Launched

The hull of the first of the Royal Australian Navy’s two new amphibious ships has been launched in Spain, heralding a new era for Australia’s amphibious capability.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, led the launch and said the event was enormously significant.

“These ships are officially known as Landing Helicopter Docks or LHDs and are the largest the Australian Navy has ever owned,” Vice Admiral Crane said.

LHD01's hull launch was held at the Navantia dockyards at Ferrol in northern Spain; the event having a distinct Australian feel as children of Australian diplomats joined the official delegation waving Australian flags.

A Canberra regional sparkling wine was broken over the Canberra Class ship’s hull.

Vicki Coates, wife of the late Rear Admiral Nigel Coates who commanded the previous HMAS Canberra, was the ‘launch lady’.

Vice Admiral Crane said with a new generation in technology would come a new way of thinking in terms of how Navy would operate and crew this new capability.

“We are well progressed in our planning for the LHD arrival,” he said.

“I am confident we will have the people and the knowhow by the time the first LHD comes on line.

“Most importantly, for now, this project is on time and on budget.”

Both ships will be based at Garden Island in Sydney.

Crewed by all three services, the LHD will mark a significant strengthening of the ADF’s amphibious capability and tri-service culture.

First of class, HMAS Canberra (LHD01) will arrive in Victoria next year where it will be fitted out before being accepted into service in 2014 with sister ship HMAS Adelaide (LHD02) to follow the year after.

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