The Royal Australian Navy has commissioned the first of three new Air Warfare Destroyers, HMAS Hobart, in a traditional ceremony in Sydney.
HMAS Hobart will be the first of her class of three new warships which will be the first destroyers operated by the Royal Australian Navy since HMAS Brisbane paid off in 2001. They will replace the last four Adelaide class frigates in the Australian fleet.
The formal commissioning ceremony, at Sydney’s Garden Island naval dockyard, was attended by numerous dignitaries including senior military officers, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Defence Minister Senator Payne and the Queen’s representative retired General David Hurley, the Governor of New South Wales.
Based off a Spanish design, the Hobart class destroyers are equipped with the American Aegis combat suite, a 48 cell Mk 41 vertical launching system, two quad-cannister harpoon missile launchers, a Phalanx CIWS and a 5” Mark 45 main gun. Aviation facilities will include accommodation a single MH-60 Romeo helicopter.
The vessel’s introduction has been a long time coming after a difficult construction period that has led to massive delays and cost blowouts. Originally intended to be built entirely in Australia, with blocks constructed across the country before final assembly at the ASC shipyard in South Australia, issues with the speed and quality of production resulted in some blocks being reallocated including some to the Navantia shipyards in Spain. As a result the initial commissioning scheduled for December 2014 was pushed back some 33 months.
Despite these issues the Minister was quick to praise the shipbuilders, highlighting in her media release that “The commissioning of Hobart is the culmination of the hard work of thousands of Australians who built and delivered the future capability of the Royal Australian Navy. The crew and shipbuilders who have brought this new capability into service are to be congratulated on their achievement.”
The vessel will now undergo a period of workup allowing for further testing and evaluation as she integrates into the fleet. The vessels are expected to fill the air defence role for Australian task groups, likely to be centered around the Canberra class LHDs.
Sister ships Brisbane and Sydney are currently planned to be commissioned mid next year and late in 2019 respectively.