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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.

22 COMMENTS

  1. More or less the exact same article could have been written substituting the subject of the Canberra Class to our own Type 45’s. It’s always frustrating when naval vessels develop issues, however, these are complex pieces of equipment and especially with new designs, although the hulls are based on another vessel, things like this will happen. I would avoid calling it a disaster after 10 days. If they’re still in drydock in 3 or 4 months time, then we can up the ante on the disaster scale perhaps moving from level “Tutt” to “FFS”.

    • I think you should re-read the article. The ten day repair period expired in March. So definitely cause for concern, I think.

    • The article says they’ve been there since March having been scheduled only for the ten days. Broadly though, I do agree with you.

  2. Who wrote this nonsense? The first paragraph doesn’t make any sense. What are “proposal systems” which have been stated here as the problem?

    A editor needs to proof read articles submitted on this site.

  3. ESPS Juan Carlos I had propulsion problems too at 2009. Errors in design of its motors caused a breakage and cavitation problems. It was solved by changing the pods.
    QUOTE
    “In the initial test of diesel generators, in the summer of 2009, the port engine break connecting rods and caused breakdowns that did not allow repair. This forced to change the entire engine by extracting it through the roof of the engine room to the deck of the heavy-duty garage and there, on an expressly designed platform.

    These are engines designed by the German company MAN Diesel & Turbo SE, one of the world leaders in diesel for marine propulsion and electric power generation. They are manufactured under license by Navantia in the engine factory of Cartagena. As a matter of dates, the new engine was manufactured in Germany and was installed on board in February 2010, and since then it has been fully operational. By express indication of the manufacturer, the starboard engine was also modified to avoid that the problem could be repeated. Everything seems to indicate that it is a design problem, happily solved.

    In the first tests of the propulsion equally vibrations were detected and simultaneously cavitation was detected in the front blades of the propellers of the propulsion pods. The German company Schottel GmbH commissioned the Marine Research Institute, located in Wageningen, the Netherlands, to study the situation. The solution has been a new drop around the pods, replacing the previous one in rounded form. The redesign of the blades of the propellers’ front propellers was also satisfactorily solved and the ship carried out further sea trials on August 24 and 25, about 15 miles from the Ferrol estuary, with the support of the Álvaro Of Bazán frigate.”

  4. Well that’s interesting. As a valuable ally I wish nothing but good for the Australian armed forces but, with Navantia behind the Canberra design and Navantia also involved in one of the three shortlisted contenders for the Australian Navy’s future frigate contract (the F105 with the other two on the shortlist being FREMM and T26), I wonder whether this weakens the F105 bid and might help T26’s chances of winning. Here’s hoping.

    • “I wonder whether this weakens the F105 bid and might help T26’s chances of winning. Here’s hoping.” I wondered the same thing as I read the article and agree with you. If the Type 26s can be produced without the same propulsion flaws as the Type 45s, then the British will have created a world-beater of a design. Thankfully, most of the systems on the Type 26 have already been tested and proven, so there shouldn’t be as much worry as with the 45s. Would love to see Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil buy a bunch of these ships. I only wish the British were building 20 of the darn things.

      • “Would love to see Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil buy a bunch of these ships.”

        With the slightly dubious added benefit that, if Australia and Canada’s plans survive intact and don’t end up getting the numbers reduced as so often happens with UK plans, then both of those countries would each end up operating more T26s than the UK! I call it a “dubious benefit” because if that were to happen then just possibly it might embarrass some future UK government into adding some extra hulls to the UK T26 program so that we didn’t end up as the third biggest operator of our own design.

        In reality I suspect that there’s a strong possibility that both Australia and Canada will reduce hull numbers at some point before their programs complete. Every western economy is struggling at the moment with ageing demographics putting strain on their budgets.

    • In reply to the first comment from Julian the F105 bid is already a reality. The first of class HMAS Hobart was at the Garden Island Naval base a couple of weeks ago whilst on sea trials. This project to deliver three F105 type AAW destroyers is also years late and millions of dollars over budget.

      To clarify a point in the article, Garden Island is the home base of both Canberra class ships. They were not sent here to be fixed as implied in the article. The rumours around the suspected faults talk about issues with the azimuth pods and or the ships engines.

  5. They are valuable vessels but the design was not proven. As with many modern ships – too sophisticated with inadequate work-up, crewing levels and continuous crew training.

  6. I hope the RAN can get these ships repaired before too long. If I am reading the article correctly, both have been laid up awaiting repair since March? It would be nice to think that one day when QE or POW pays a visit to Australia, F-35Bs could fly from Canberra’s or Adelaide’s deck, but according to Wikipedia their decks aren’t up to operating the aircraft, though I don’t know how much faith to put into that. Still, it would be nice to see QE or POW with Canberra or Adelaide, both flying F-35Bs.

    • As far as I am aware the Australian authorities looked into flying F35b’s of the Canberra’s but it proved too expensive to modify the ships.
      It would require updated air traffic control systems and radar, additional refuelling capability and logistic support as well as deck strengthening and applying fire resistant paint.

    • The decks of Canberra and Adelaide are not built to resist the heat from jet engines, also their internal layout can not accomodate jet fighters and all the extras to go with them.

      A major upgrade would be required.

  7. This is a bad news story. I had hopes the RN and HMG would see sense and build a replacement for HMS Ocean. The Canberra design was probably top of my wish list for a future RN lphd design.
    Hope the Australian can get the issues sorted out soon.

    • so do i as an Australian tax payer, great potential but no fixed wing aircraft,our government is too busy bringing in Muslims from every where and no money for defense,we have ordered 12 Barracuda short fin submarines and are exploring future frigates to replace the 8 Anzac class, we still have 3 Adelaide class and the first of our Hobart class destroyers is nearly ready for commissioning,

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