HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide – Australia’s Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock Ships that were commissioned by the Australian Defence Force to give the country a new level of capabilities – well that was the intention and today’s news wasn’t the best to hear.
ABC News is reporting that these $1.5 Billion dollar vessels with next generation technology and the ability to carry over a thousand troops into combat are currently in dry-dock and not going anywhere anytime soon.
In March of this year, both ships were sent to Garden Island (a major naval facility in Sydney) when problems were identified with the propulsion systems on both ships which is a bit of a problem since the ships were only commissioned a couple of years earlier and that they are still in dry-dock today after a 10 day repair time frame was given.
According to the Defence Department emergent issues were identified during a first of class flight trials on HMAS Canberra and that such problems have since been identified on HMAS Adelaide.
And there is frustration on the ships repairs; Defence Minister Marise Payne has expressed her frustration privately about the delays in repairs that stopped either ship from being used in the Cyclone Debbie recovery and Opposition Assistant Defence Spokesman David Feeney has said that the government needs to come clean about what is happening with the two LHDS as the Australian people need to know.
The Canberra class are not strangers to controversy. The Adelaide was dry-docked back in 2015 after an operator error caused the amphibious launch doors to be locked open, both ships have caused outrage over the blow out in costs, their delays in launch and were criticised from a strategic point of view as they lack the capabilities to launch jets from their decks.
The LHD’s were supposed to be a success story and demonstrate Australian strength in the region however with their consistency of design issues and an ever growing need to spend more money to keep them maintained, they are turning out to be the lemons the Australian Defence Force doesn’t need.