The Royal Australian Navy (Ran) has launched the hull of the first of two new amphibious ships, HMAS Canberra (LHD01), in Spain, paving the way for Australia’s amphibious transformation.

The RAN Navy chief Vice Admiral Russ Crane said the ships were officially known as landing helicopter docks (LHDs), the largest the navy has ever owned.

“We are well progressed in our planning for the LHD arrival. I am confident we will have the people and the know-how by the time the first LHD comes on line. For now, this project is on time and on budget,” he added.

The 27,000t LHD is expected to strengthen the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) amphibious capability and tri-service culture.

HMAS Canberra will be fitted out in Victoria next year and will be accepted into service in 2014, while the second LHD, HMAS Adelaide (LHD02), will follow the year after.