The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) landing helicopter dock vessel (LHD) HMAS Canberra has completed a graduated operational test and trials programme, achieving a key milestone towards initial operating capability.
The test and trials programme saw the integration of landing craft, as well as trials for both the crew, ship and aviation systems.
In addition, the navy’s S70B Seahawk, army’s S70A Blackhawk and the joint MRH-90 Taipan helicopters have now all been evaluated for operations from the Canberra-class ships.
RAN chief vice-admiral Tim Barrett said: "Canberra now has another two months of more complex joint collective training and exercises to integrate other elements of the Australian Defence Force amphibious capability.
"Certification of the amphibious ready element later this year is the final tick to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support. I will then be able to declare the initial operating capability for the Canberra-class amphibious ships."
The 230m-long Canberra-class LHDs, the largest ships ever built for the RAN, are capable of carrying more than 1,100 personnel, 100 armoured vehicles, and 12 helicopters.
The vessel will feature four 20mm automated guns, six 12.7mm machine guns, anti-torpedo towed defence system, and Nulka active missile decoy system.
Final operational capability for the Canberra-class is expected to be announced in late 2017.
Recently, Nuship Adelaide, Canberra’s sister ship, successfully completed second and final sea trials in Port Phillip Bay. The vessel is expected to be delivered soon.
The RAN received the first of two LHD vessels, Nuship Canberra, in October last year.
Image: HMAS Canberra off the north Queensland coast with 5 MRH 90 aircraft on deck and her four Landing Craft deployed. Photo: courtesy of LSIS Helen Frank / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.