The Royal Australian Navy has commissioned HMAS Canberra today at Fleet Base East at Sidney. HMAS Canberra will proceed to sea in the coming weeks for a period of training and assessment for the crew. HMS Canberra is the first of two 27,000 tonne Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessels designed by the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. HMAS Canberra was the largest warship ever built for the RAN. HMAS Canberra is the first of two LHDs, a collaboration between the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and BAE Systems – Maritime. The second LHD, NUSHIP Adelaide is planned to commission in 2016. The Canberra will be based at Sidney, its commanding officer is Captain Jonathan Sadleir.
The LHD is a multi-purpose warship configured to carry out humanitarian assistance or transport an embarked force complete with their equipment and aviation assets for a peacekeeping mission. Each of the two ships will be able land a force of more than 1000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores. The warship will be jointly crewed with personnel from Navy, Army and Air Force forming the ship’s company.
Both warships have state of the art medical facilities including operating theatres, an eight bed Critical Care Unit, a variety of wards, pathology and radiology services, an x-ray, pharmacy and dental facilities.
HMAS Canberra has a conventional steel mono hull design employed with the superstructure located on the starboard side of the flight deck. The ship is designed with the shallowest possible draft to operate in secondary ports and harbours as well as manoeuvre in the shallow waters common in the littoral regions. The hull has four main decks; heavy vehicle, accommodation, hangar and light vehicles and flight decks. The flight deck space can accommodate six medium-size helicopters such as the MRH 90 Taipan or Black Hawk, and can support a mix of helicopter operations ranging from the smaller Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter through to the much larger CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters.