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Largest Ever Australian Warship Enters Fleet

Royal Australian Navy MH60R 'Romeo' Seahawk, flies past HMAS Canberra. RAN Photo

Royal Australian Navy MH60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk, flies past HMAS Canberra. RAN Photo

The first of two 27,000-ton amphibious warships was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on Friday, according to information from the service.

HMAS Canberra (L-02) entered the RAN fleet on Friday during a ceremony at the service’s Fleet Base East in Sydney.

Canberra and sister ship HMAS Adelaide will be the two largest ships in RAN history as part of about a $2.5 billion (USD) shipbuilding program.

The ship’s design is based on a Spanish amphibious assault ship Juan Carlo I and built and designed by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and BAE Systems Australia.


The pair will be the first ships since the 1980s capable of operating short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) fighters, but the Australian government said it has no plans to by the STOVL variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

“HMAS Canberra is an exciting addition to the Royal Australian Navy. This very capable ship will serve the nation well for decades to come,” said RAN Chief of Navy Vice Adm. Tim Barrett on Friday during the commissioning ceremony.

The ships will be crewed by about 400 RAN sailors and can transport about 1,000 troops with four landing craft and eight helicopters in an amphibious configuration. The ships can field up to 18 helicopters in an aviation centric configuration.

Next ship in the class, Adelaide, is set to commission in 2016.

  • Marjus Plaku

    Love the well deck, cargo room, elevator and ski ramp. Will ensure it hosts Marine forces stationed in Darwin. Imagine Marine jets flying off this ship. I like the in hull dual propeller electric motor propulsion, no shaft. Very nifty for sea operations, but disappointed with puny radar suite and hard missile/gun defenses. I guess with the US Navy nearby it shouldn’t be an issue.

  • muzzleloader

    “There are no plans to buy the STVOL variant of the F-35”. ?? What then is the ski ramp on the bow for?

    • Joe Schmoe

      For Redbull Creation events duh.

    • old guy

      All V/STOL A/C (e.g. Convertiplanes like V-22 and Sea Harrier and its follow-on) benefit greatly in fuel savings by using a ramp to take-off.

      • muzzleloader

        Yes, but the RAN has no Harriers, or any other aircraft with V/STOL capability.

      • R’ Yitzchak M

        I am just curious is this add angle or this ski-jump deem to be a little steep for V-22?

    • vegass04 .

      I was just asking my self the same question. Why do they so decitfully oppose an F-35B model since it would give RAN capability they can’t imagine. Really strange i must admit.

      • silencedogoodreturns

        there may be inter-service rivalry involved. The RAN hasn’t operated fixed wing aircraft for a LONG time. Even the P-3s/P-8s are operated by the Air Force, not the Navy.

        • vegass04 .

          I’m not an expert on Australian military matters but it seems funny for such a petty thing to come between true Australian naval air power and not having any.

          • silencedogoodreturns

            True, and I doubt it’s service rivalry so much as budget limitations and roles and missions.

  • RobH

    The STOVL concept has actually been pushed by the current government. Timely account of the F-35B/LHD concept in USNI’s Aussie counterpart was published this week, here – http://navalinstitute.com.au/f-35-strike-fighters-from-the-canberra-class/

  • Secundius

    @ muzzleloader.

    The US Navy and US Marine Corps are setting up Rapid Reactionary Forces. All over the world, Australia being one such place. It is understood if US Marines are to be in place F/AV-35B Lightning II’s will be with them. While not “officially” billeted aboard the new Gator-Freighters. US. Marine Corps Aviator’s with their F/A-35B’s, might find Temporary Placement aboard these ships. Hell of a concept, isn’t it…

  • omegatalon

    If it looks like an aircraft carrier it will still be targeted if it’s an aircraft carrier whether Australia decides to buy Lockheed’s F-35B or not; but what is the ramp for as helicopters do not require them.

  • DWinslow

    With 4-25mm cannon and 6- 50 cal. machine guns she sets a new standard for inadequate armament. Imagine what a Russian amphibious ship this size would feature. Probably 4-30mm CIWS, a couple of SAM systems and perhaps some supersonic antiship missiles.

  • Secundius

    Reddit’d all ready.

  • Girgis

    They should be painted white and used as humanitarian support vessels – for that is what they capable of doing independently. Without the US Navy’s ability to control the sea these ships would be incapable of amphibious operations in a contested environment.

  • iamhe

    Looks like an easy target for China’s new surface hugging supersonic missiles. -1000 mile range. these missiles come over the horizon so fast they hit their target before any one can even bless them selves.

    Mutual Nuclear Deterrence makes war and war machines obsolete.

    You are wasting the peoples money, which is better spent on responsible social programs.

    • Jack Lawrence

      Does anybody have any hard information on how well these supermissles really work? Hard to believe a nation that produces so many reverse engineered/stolen technology systems could produce such an advancement of an already mature technology. I remember when, during the Soviet era, the Russians ran the engines of MIG-25 over Egypt and set a record. We picked up on that and decided our air fleet was instantly obsolete. A defector later revealed that the Russians had run the engines up over the red line so far that they burned out. Like to know more about this supermissle. Remember the old adage. If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

      • iamhe

        It is real, a scram jet engine for propulsion.. Old technology, it keeps going faster and faster intil it runs out of fule or air… Or hits a carrier, which is what it was designed to do…

        Right now they are land based…

        • Jack Lawrence

          Familiar with scram. Great concept.
          Many drawbacks. It seems incredible that the Chinese have actually overcome the myriad design, fuel, material problems for this application other programs have not.
          Would like to see hard data on this.
          As far as I can tell, the Chinese are still in the booster to velocity phase of their program. Are you sure of this?

          • iamhe

            From what I read…yes

          • Jack Lawrence

            OK. I am still dubious.
            Methinks the Chinese are puffing up but don’t have the technology. And the Navy is using it as part of budget negotiations. Both are old and hallowed strategies. As an as side, IMHO, by the time anybody develops this system, other technologies will have passed it by.

        • iamhe

          Correction, evidently it is not any kind of jet engine…

      • iamhe

        Do not underestimate the Chinese, they certainly have their high quality top notch engineering.

  • Granch

    The ski ramp at the bow helps to launch the landing crafts. With anough power in the catapult, the craft can even land without getting wet. You can believe a swiss specialist… 😉

  • iamhe

    China’s hypersonic missile is the YJ-12, rumor is it is now an airborn weapon as well as a ground based weapon.

    • Jack Lawrence

      This is all anti-access/area denial play posturing. Do not think we are taking the Chinese for granted or underestimating them. I do think that we are properly reacting and, at the end of the day, we will be well postured, if appropriations allow
      But a bit if hyperbole at budget time is a lot more effective than hypersonic wannabe sea skimmers.