Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare and Attorney General and Member for Gellibrand Nicola Roxon today visited the BAE Systems dockyard in Williamstown, Melbourne, to view progress on the construction of Australia’s largest ever warship.
Australia is acquiring two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships at a total cost of over $2 billion.
The hulls for these ships are being built in Spain with the superstructure construction and integration work being undertaken at Williamstown.
BAE Systems is the Prime Contractor for the LHD project and is managing the overall project in cooperation with subcontractors Navantia, Saab and L-3 Communications.
Construction of the first LHD began in September 2008. The first three blocks were laid down in September 2010 and the hull was launched in February 2011. The hull arrived in Williamstown in October this year.
Work is now underway to complete this ship. This year alone, BAE has completed more than 750,000 hours of work and plans to have one million hours of work completed by the end of this year.
The Ministers took the opportunity to see Block 811, weighing over 300 tonnes, which has recently been lifted onto the hull of the first LHD for consolidation.
The remaining superstructure blocks are expected to be consolidated on the hull before the end of this year.
This ship will enter RAN service in 2014 and will be commissioned as HMAS Canberra. The second is expected to enter service in 2016 and will be commissioned as HMAS Adelaide.
The hull of the second LHD was launched in July and is due to arrive in Australia for superstructure completion and fitting out in early 2014.
The introduction into service of these ships will mark a significant change in the way the Australian Defence Force (ADF) deploys its land forces and conducts amphibious operations.
Each ship with its crew of around 300 personnel can carry and embark a combined armed battlegroup of more than 1100 personnel, 100 armoured vehicles, 12 helicopters and features a 40-bed hospital.
“The construction of the LHD is a significant milestone and is ensuring a new era for Defence’s amphibious force capability,” Mr Smith said.
“As the ADF draws down from Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, the ADF will be developing a ship to shore amphibious capability through the use of our LHDs.
“This will further enhance our interoperability with United States forces.”
“The LHDs are bigger than Australia’s last aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne,” Mr Clare said.
“The flight deck on the LHD is as big as 24 tennis courts and could fit four ANZAC Class frigates.
“The LHD will be equipped with a hospital that could treat a town the size of Warrnambool and it generates enough electricity to power a city the size of Darwin.”
“It’s fantastic to have Ministers Smith and Clare visit BAE’s Williamstown shipyards. BAE Systems are well placed to lead this important project that is delivering jobs to Melbourne’s West,” Ms Roxon said.
“Local businesses including Able Engineering in Kingsville, Pronto Cement in Sunshine and Kennedy Plumbing Services in Williamstown have all contributed to the production of some of the most advanced warships in the world.”
Minister Smith: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Minister Clare: Annie Williams (02) 6277 7290 or 0428 040 522
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999