Australia — Amphibious Ship Update

Min­is­ter for Defence Stephen Smith and Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today pro­vid­ed an update on the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy’s Amphibi­ous Ship capa­bil­i­ty.

Pur­chase of Largs Bay

The Gov­ern­ment announced on 6 April that Aus­tralia had been suc­cess­ful in its bid to acquire the Unit­ed Kingdom’s Bay Class amphibi­ous ship Largs Bay at a cost of £65 mil­lion (approx­i­mate­ly $A100 million). 

Aus­tralia has now signed a Let­ter of Intent with the UK Gov­ern­ment and the first two pay­ments of £22 mil­lion each (£44 mil­lion or $A66 mil­lion in total) have been made on the ship. 

A sea-tri­al of the ship has also been conducted. 

The tri­al was con­duct­ed in two phas­es — a har­bour phase (11–17 April) fol­lowed by the at-sea phase (18–19 April). 

Defence’s final report on the sea-tri­al con­firms that the ship is in good mate­r­i­al state. 

Inter­na­tion­al ship­ping firm, Teekay Ship­ping Aus­tralia, thor­ough­ly inspect­ed the ship pri­or to the sub­mis­sion of Australia’s bid and found that: 

“the ship presents very well, and from a tech­ni­cal point of view, there are no major defects.”

Teekay was also engaged on the sea tri­al and have pro­vid­ed an updat­ed report that con­firms their pre­vi­ous assessment. 

The Gov­ern­ment will now give con­sid­er­a­tion to what mod­i­fi­ca­tions are nec­es­sary for Aus­tralian use of Largs Bay, with such work on the ship sub­ject to Gov­ern­ment approval. 

The ship remains on track to arrive in Aus­tralia by the end of the year in time for it to be oper­a­tional in Aus­tralia in ear­ly 2012. 

HMAS Tobruk

HMAS Tobruk will be docked in Syd­ney today for pre­vi­ous­ly announced required main­te­nance, which is expect­ed to take around two months. 

In order to ensure Aus­tralia has an amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty dur­ing this peri­od, the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment has char­tered the long range sup­port ship Auro­ra Aus­tralis from P&O Mar­itime Ser­vices from 8 May 2011 to 30 June 2011, with options for an exten­sion up to a month. 

The Auro­ra Aus­tralis is a 94 metre Super Icebreaker. 

It can car­ry 700 tonnes of car­go, trans­port 116 pas­sen­gers, embark water­craft and sup­port heli­copter operations. 

The ves­sel reg­u­lar­ly sup­ports Antarc­tic bases with lim­it­ed or no port facil­i­ties, mak­ing it unique among com­mer­cial ves­sels cur­rent­ly avail­able and ide­al for human­i­tar­i­an and dis­as­ter relief work. 

The char­ter of this ves­sel will help ensure that Aus­tralia is able to respond to human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief inci­dents over this period. 

The lease will cost $3.375 mil­lion and will be met from with­in exist­ing Defence resources. 

If required for oper­a­tions it can be sup­port­ed by a Guid­ed Mis­sile Frigate as well as Heavy Land­ing Craft. 

The char­ter of the Auro­ra Aus­tralis is in addi­tion to Australia’s agree­ment with New Zealand that the New Zealand amphibi­ous lift ship HMNZS Can­ter­bury would be made avail­able as part of the joint Pacif­ic-focused Ready Response Force dur­ing Tobruk’s main­te­nance peri­od, sub­ject to any oper­a­tional require­ments in New Zealand. 

HMAS Tobruk is also sched­uled for rou­tine main­te­nance for around a six week peri­od in Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber 2011 to pre­pare the ship ahead of cyclone season. 

Detailed plan­ning is cur­rent­ly under­way to ensure Aus­tralia has an amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty dur­ing this peri­od. Details will be pro­vid­ed clos­er to that time. 

Options under con­sid­er­a­tion include ongo­ing coop­er­a­tion with New Zealand over the use of HMNZS Can­ter­bury, Auro­ra Aus­tralis and a range of com­mer­cial options. 

Media con­tact:
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Mr Clare’s Office: Kore­na Flana­gan (02) 6277 7620 or 0418 251 316
Depart­ment: (02) 6127 1999 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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