HMAS Canberra L02 is the first of two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011. The hull was then transported to Australia in late 2012 for completion by BAE Systems Australia. Canberra was commissioned on 28 November 2014.
The Canberra-class vessels are 230.82 metres (757.3 ft) long overall, with a maximum beam of 32 metres (105 ft), and a maximum draught of 7.08 metres (23.2 ft) At full load, Canberra will displace 27,500 tonnes (27,100 long tons; 30,300 short tons), making her the largest vessel to serve in the RAN. Propulsion is provided by two Siemens 11-megawatt (15,000 hp) azimuth thrusters, each with an onboard electric motor, driving two 4.5-metre (15 ft) diameter propellers.
The electricity is provided by a Combined diesel electric and gas system, with a single General Electric CM2500 turbine producing 19,160 kilowatts (25,690 hp), supported by two MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators providing 7,448 kilowatts (9,988 hp). Maximum speed is over 20 knots (37 km/h; 2 mph), with a maximum sustainable full-load speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), and an economical cruising speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). Economical range is 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi).
For self-defence, She is fitted with four Rafael Typhoon 25 mm remote weapons systems (one in each corner of the flight deck), six 12.7 mm machine guns, an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy, and a Nulka missile decoy.
Defence against aircraft and larger targets is to be provided by escort vessels and air support from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The ships' companies will consist of 358 personnel; 293 RAN, 62 Australian Army, and 3 RAAF.
The LHDs will transport 1,046 soldiers and their equipment. Canberra will be capable of deploying a reinforced company of up to 220 soldiers at a time by airlift. Two vehicle decks (one for light vehicles, the other for heavy vehicles and tanks) have areas of 1,880 square metres (20,200 sq ft) and 1,410 square metres (15,200 sq ft) respectively, and between them can accommodate up to 110 vehicles. The well deck will carry up to four LHD Landing Craft (LLC), which can be launched and recovered in conditions up to Sea State 4.
The flight deck can operate six MRH-90-size helicopters or four Chinook-size helicopters simultaneously, in conditions up to Sea State 5. A mix of MRH-90 transport helicopters and S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters will be carried: up to eight can be stored in the hangar deck, and the light vehicle deck can be repurposed to fit another ten.
The ski-jump ramp of Juan Carlos I has been retained for the RAN ships, although fixed-wing flight operations are not planned for the ships.
Operational historyCanberra was the centrepiece of Australia Day celebrations in Sydney on 26 January 2015.
In March 2015, the ship was designated the flagship of the RAN.
In February 2016, the ship was deployed from Fleet Base East initially to Brisbane in Queensland where it loaded a Royal Australian Army Engineer squadron and equipment including beach landing capabilities, water purification equipment and other essential engineering stores and then it sailed to Fiji on its first humanitarian mission after a tropical cyclone hit the country on February 20. She was carrying 50 tonnes of humanitarian supplies including food, water, and medical equipment as well as more than 850 personnel from the Australian Defence Force. Embarked with the ship were three MRH-90 helicopters to support Australian operations. The Canberra joined other ADF assets to help with relief efforts.
In July 2016, a United States Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey conducted six test landings on Canberra during exercise RIMPAC 2016, the first V-22 landings on an Australian LHD.
Photos by Ian Shepherd Nad Wikipedia