The largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Amphibious Assault Ships as known as Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) are being built by contractors BAE Systems Australia and Navantia.
The LHDs will provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with one of the most capable and sophisticated air–land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.
Each ship is divided into 112 modules, which are built and fitted out as discrete units and then consolidated together to form the completed ship. This allows work on the ship to be completed at a number of different locations prior to assembly. There are 105 modules that make up the hull and seven modules that make up the superstructure.
The construction of the hull to the level of the flight deck and the majority of fitting out is being undertaken at Navantia’s shipyard in Ferrol, Spain. The work undertaken at the BAE Systems shipyard in Williams town, Victoria, includes consolidation of the superstructure and installation of the Combat and Communication Systems.
These vessels will contribute directly to the defence of Australia and its national interests, and also allow the ADF to provide large-scale humanitarian assistance, at home or in our region.
The LHDs can embark, transport and deploy military forces along with their equipment and supporting aviation assets.
The ships have a conventional steel mono hull design with the superstructure located on the starboard side of the flight deck. They are 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.
There are four main decks; heavy vehicle, accommodation, hangar and light vehicles and flight decks.
Purpose build water craft will enable transport of troops and equipment from the LHD’s to shore, including where there are no fixed port facilities.
The ships will be equipped with modern Command and Control and combat systems including air and surface radar, advanced communications capability and surveillance systems.
The ships will also be fitted with defensive systems and weaponry including an anti-torpedo towed system and gunnery.
The first LHD was named Canberra in an official naval ceremony on 15 February 2013. NUSHIP Canberra is due to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in 2014.
LHD arrival at Williamstown