Australia — Transition plan to Landing Helicopter Dock

Min­is­ter for Defence Stephen Smith and Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that HMAS Manoo­ra would be decom­mis­sioned and that Defence would devel­op a new com­pre­hen­sive plan to tran­si­tion to the new Land­ing Heli­copter Dock (LHD) Ships.

HMAS Manoo­ra

HMAS Manoo­ra will be decom­mis­sioned on the advice of Chief of Navy.

The Manoo­ra was placed on oper­a­tional pause by the Sea­wor­thi­ness Board in Sep­tem­ber last year.

An exam­i­na­tion of the over 40 year old ship has revealed it requires reme­di­a­tion of sig­nif­i­cant hull cor­ro­sion and the replace­ment of both gear boxes.

This work would cost over $20 mil­lion and would take until April 2012 to complete.

The Manoo­ra was sched­uled to be decom­mis­sioned at the end of next year.

“That is not val­ue for mon­ey for anoth­er nine months of ser­vice,” Mr Smith and Mr Clare said.

Land­ing Heli­copter Dock (LHD):

HMAS Manoo­ra and the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy’s oth­er amphibi­ous sup­port ships (HMAS Kan­im­bla and HMAS Tobruk) will be replaced by two Can­ber­ra Class LHDs, the largest Ships ever oper­at­ed by the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy.

Lat­er this month (Feb­ru­ary 18) the hull of the first LHD will be launched in Spain where it has been con­struct­ed by Navantia.

The hull will arrive in Mel­bourne next year for fur­ther work to be com­plet­ed at the Williamstown Ship­yard before the LHD becomes oper­a­tional in 2014. Australia’s sec­ond LHD will become oper­a­tional the fol­low­ing year.

The LHDs are big­ger than Australia’s last air­craft car­ri­er. Each is 230 meters long and can car­ry a com­bined armed bat­tle­group of more than 1000 per­son­nel, 100 armoured vehi­cles and 12 heli­copters. Each also includes a 40-bed hospital.

“Step­ping up to this new capa­bil­i­ty is going to require a lot of work by Navy,” Mr Smith said.

“It is very dif­fer­ent to the ships we cur­rent­ly oper­ate. One LHD will effec­tive­ly replace the entire amphibi­ous force we have today. It also has a num­ber of capa­bil­i­ties, such as a float­ing dock that the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy does not cur­rent­ly operate.

“Because of the decom­mis­sion­ing of the Manoo­ra and the age of our oth­er amphibi­ous ships, I have asked Defence to present a new com­pre­hen­sive plan for the tran­si­tion towards the new LHDs.”

Tran­si­tion plan:

“I have asked Defence to present me with options and rec­om­men­da­tions to ensure the smooth tran­si­tion to the LHD,” Mr Smith said.

This could include the lease or pur­chase Ships that would pro­vide a plat­form to train and pre­pare for the LHDs, such as a Bay Class Ship from the UK Government.

If this option is tak­en up it could pro­vide for the decom­mis­sion­ing of the HMAS Kan­im­bla or HMAS Tobruk to be brought forward. 

HMAS Kan­im­bla was also placed on oper­a­tional pause by the Sea­wor­thi­ness Board last year. The Kan­im­bla is not now expect­ed to be avail­able for oper­a­tions until mid-2012 and is cur­rent­ly sched­uled to be decom­mis­sioned at the end of 2014.

HMAS Tobruk is cur­rent­ly being main­tained at a 48 hours readi­ness pos­ture in order to meet Aus­tralian Defence Force pre­pared­ness requirements.

The Tobruk will be required to dock this year to replace worn-out sup­port bear­ings on a pro­peller shaft. She is due to be decom­mis­sioned at the end of 2012.

Media Note:

Pro­mo­tion­al vision sup­plied by Navan­tia will be fed to Par­lia­ment House net­works. The vision shows a Span­ish LHD. It is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion only of what Aus­tralia is pur­chas­ing as the Aus­tralian vari­ant will be used by heli­copters only and not fixed wing aircraft. 

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

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