Today, I hosted Pedro Morenés Eulate, Spain’s Minister of Defence, during his visit to Melbourne. We were joined by the Minister for Defence Materiel, Dr Mike Kelly.
Minister Morenés was in Melbourne to conduct bilateral discussions and to participate in today’s naming ceremony of Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship, the Nu Ship Canberra.
In recognition of the increasingly close defence ties between our two countries, Minister Morenés and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral defence cooperation during today’s naming ceremony for Nu Ship Canberra.
This arrangement will build upon our existing materiel cooperation and provide a framework that will see the bilateral defence relationship expand into new areas, such as strategic planning, logistics, and science and technology.
During our bilateral meeting, Minister Morenés and I reviewed the progress of materiel projects between Australia and Spain and reaffirmed our shared commitment to deliver the best possible capabilities to the Australian Defence Force.
In addition to the new Canberra Class LHDs, Australia and Spain are collaborating on Australia’s Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD’s), amphibious landing craft, and Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft programs.
We also discussed the broader strategic outlook for Australia and Spain, noting our respective plans for contributions in Afghanistan – including transition in 2014 and post 2014 transition commitments. Spain currently has around 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, principally in Badghis Province.
I look forward to continuing to work with Minister Morenés to strengthen and expand the bilateral defence relationship between Australia and Spain.
Minister Morenés and I also toured the Spanish Armada Ship Cantabria, which has been deployed to Australia from mid-February until November this year.
Cantabria’s deployment is a result of the excellent relationship between the Spanish Armada and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Many of Cantabria’s ship systems are the same as Navy’s new LHD’s and AWDs. The project arrangement provides an excellent opportunity for RAN personnel to train and familiarise themselves with Cantabria before they go on to crew the LHD and AWD.
During the deployment Cantabria will participate in training and exercises with Australian naval ships and helicopters. The deployment will culminate with Cantabria’s participation in the Australian International Fleet Review in October.
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