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COuNTDOwN TO NEw
By Michael Brooke
2010 Sea Power Conference
In 2014, the ADF will take into service a new expeditionary
capability that will literally tower overhead like a giant colossus.
The arrival of the 27,000-tonne HMAS Canberra,
the RAN’s first amphibious ship (LHD), will
mark the delivery of the initial elements of a
transformational capability that will form the
centre-piece of the ADF’s new expeditionary
The amphibious assault ship and her landing craft
will, in one step, replace the entire current ADF
amphibious shipping capability and exceed its
capacity for personnel, vehicle and aviation force
With her sister ship, HMAS Adelaide, and in
due course with a strategic sealift ship and
replacement heavy landing craft, the ADF will
possess the heart of a world-class amphibious
The enormity of the challenge of integrating this
new capability has been realised by the ADF which
will take delivery of the LHDs in 2014 and 2016.
The opportunities and challenges were discussed
by more than 250 senior ADF officers as well
as foreign military delegations and defence
strategists at the 2010 Sea Power Conference in
The three Service chiefs told the Sea Power
Conference, entitled Combined and Joint
Operations from the Sea, that a new amphibious
capability not only poses many challenges but
will need to be a centrepiece of both Navy and
Army, requiring changes in thinking, priorities and
Chief of Navy VADM Russ Crane said the LHDs will
form a key part of the ADF’s broader amphibious
deployment and sustainment system.
A single LHD with 1000 embarked force bunks,
dedicated amphibious command and control
facilities, six helicopter operating spots and
hangers for more aircraft will rapidly embark a
combat team as its landing force, a small joint
amphibious task group HQ, a small aviation
element and other vital enablers such as medical
and logistic capability. This will have enormous
flexibility and utility in humanitarian aid, disaster
relief and evacuation contingencies.
VADM Crane said the future ADF amphibious
capability will be a truly joint capability.
He said the ADF must be ready for this leading-
edge expeditionary capability which is essential
to an expeditionary maritime strategy in the
CN said that the key elements of expeditionary
maritime power projection are maritime strike and
a littoral manoeuvre capability.
“This maritime contribution to a joint campaign
is integrated joint expeditionary capability that
delivers rapid intervention and manoeuvre from the
sea and into the littoral,” he said.
VADM Crane said the LHD ships’ company is
testament to this with a significant number of
soldiers permanently posted to the ship as well as
members of the Air Force.
“To ensure that the amphibious capability
continues to develop and maintain a high level
of readiness, the optimum balance for embarking
landing force personnel is required,” VADM Crane
ABOVe: United States Commander Navy Sea Systems Command, Vice Admiral Kevin M. McCoy, meets with Chief of
Navy Vice Admiral Russ Crane at the 2010 Royal Australian Navy Sea Power Conference at the Sydney Convention Centre.
Photo: ABIS Hayley Clarke
“This has been recently discussed between the
Chief of Army and me, and we share the aspiration
to have landing force elements embarked
whenever a LHD puts to sea.”
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie
and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin
spoke in detail about the challenges for the Army
and Royal Australian Air Force.
Lt-Gen Gillespie said that Army needed to prepare
itself for the arrival of the first LHD in March 2014.
“This large-scale platform improvement must
be accompanied by an equally large cultural and
doctrinal change if our nation is to best benefit
from this significant investment in capability,” he
“Within Army we are currently having the
necessary broad-based debate about what
change is required to maximise on our emerging
“If we are to remain the best small Army in the
world then we need to be able to demonstrate
an ability to adapt, prepare, sustain and excel
as a component of a future ADF and regionally
dominant amphibious capability.”
The discussion about how the ADF can best
integrate its new expeditionary capability
coincided with the announcement that Navantia of
Spain has commenced construction of Australia’s
second LHD hull (Nuship Adelaide) at Navantia’s
shipbuilding yard in Ferrol, Spain.
“This is a great achievement with the steel being
cut by Navantia seven weeks ahead of schedule,”
Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and
Science Mr Greg Combet said.
The Commonwealth has contracted BAE Systems
Australia to provide two large Amphibious Ships
(LHDs) that will form part of the ADF’s broader
amphibious deployment and sustainment system.
“Under the project the Spanish shipbuilder
Navantia is the design authority and is
subcontracted to BAE Systems Australia to
construct and fit out the hulls of two large
amphibious ships for the ADF,” Mr Combet said.
“I am pleased to report that the LHD project is
on schedule, with whole of ship design reviews
completed and the keel laying of LHD 01 taking
place exactly one year to the day from first steel
“After completion of LHD 01 and 02, both hulls will
be transported to Australia.”
The superstructures will then be constructed, fitted
out and integrated with the hulls at BAE Systems
Australia’s Williamstown dockyard.
“Once the hull arrives at Williamstown dockyard,
the combat system will be installed by SAAB
Systems Australia, which will also integrate the
combat management system,” Mr Combet said.
“The communications system will be supplied by
The next milestone will be the launch of LHD
01 in Spain in March 2011. LHD 01 will arrive
at Williamstown dockyard in 2012, with LHD 02
arriving in 2014.
INseT: Members of the Royal Australian Navy, Australian
and foreign Defence Forces at the 2010 Royal Australian
Navy Sea Power Conference held at the Sydney Convention
and Exhibition Centre. Photo: ABIS Hayley Clarke
ABOVe: Midshipmen on board HMAS Kanimbla look at a model of the new Landing Helicopter Dock ship.
Photo: LS Helen Frank
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