The construction of the Australian Navy’s second landing helicopter dock (LHD 02) hull has begun at Navantia’s shipbuilding yard in Ferrol, Spain, according to Australian Defence Minister Greg Combet.

The minister also said that the steel being cut for the LHD 02 amphibious ship by Navantia was seven weeks ahead of schedule.

BAE Systems Australia has been contracted to build two large amphibious ships that will form part of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) broader amphibious deployment and sustainment system.

As a subcontractor to BAE, Spanish shipbuilder Navantia will design, construct and fit out the hulls of two large amphibious ships for the ADF.

“After completion of LHD 01 and 02, both hulls will be transported to Australia,” Combet said.

“Once the hull arrives at Williamstown dockyard, the combat system will be installed by SAAB Systems Australia, which will also integrate the combat management system. The communications system will be supplied by L-3 Communications.”

The entire construction of the ships equipped and integrated with the hulls will be carried out BAE Systems Australia’s Williamstown dockyard.

The LHD 01 will be launched in Spain in March 2011 and will reach Williamstown dockyard in 2012 while the second LHD 02 is expected to arrive in 2014.