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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.

40 COMMENTS

  1. What a waste of taxpayers money. Australia’s debt is at a full trillion, they should give up the delision they are a world power and join Britain in the muck of countires not worth anything anymore. Wars are a thing of the past and clearly all that they need are costal patrol vessels and thats it.

    In fact I’m going to be writing to the Prime Minister of Australia to tell him what a joke his country is and how outrageous he’s wasted taxpayer money on this murder machine.

    • How so? Latest exportable Aegis system axis to the entire SM missile family plus whatever ever you can cram into the Mk.41 and run a software patch. CODOG propulsion by LM2500 and Caterpillar 16s both of those are very durable and easy to maintain unlike the WR-21.

      The only thing wrong with the Hobart-class is that Navantia humped the bunk on the technology transfer. That way they could make a few extra Euros for their yards back in Spain. When you factor in local in local inexperience in modern warship construction you of course get skyrocketing costs and delays. After I might add they won the contract by promising a build in Aus. Gibbs&Cox the other finalist their bid was a build at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Gibbs was the design the RAN wanted the service was overridden after Navantia promised a local build.

      On the bright side makes the T26 more likely to win the next contract. Navantia probably won’t get another RAN contract before 2050.

      • AusGov loves them for some reason – Canberra class, Hobart class – and right now 2 fleet oilers are being built in Spain. As well as being on the shortlist for the Future Frigate program.

        • Commonalities in systems, turbines (LM2500 throughout the fleet), training etc will make for greater efficiencies and therefore savings. These ships are a great leap forward for the RAN the evolution of the Hobart proposed by Navantia is an exciting prospect,

      • Apart from the two Cantabria refuellers and 12 LCM-1E’s we have since ordered from Navantia, not to mention of course the Canberra Class LHD’s?

        No, how silly of me. Of course you are correct on this matter Elliott. The Royal Australian Navy is unlikely to go anywhere near Navantia again and the T26 is an absolute shoe-in particularly considering the recent news of AEGIS being down-selected as the CMS of choice for the future frigate and the likelihood that this vessel will be equipped with a strong BMD capability…

    • I can’t believe the reaction to my ‘outdated’ comment.

      This ship looks like something from the 1980s – does it come with a VHS video player? Its power system is a legacy version of the LM2500 with only 17MW per unit and a PESA radar system from god knows when.

      It’s better than the nothing they had but will soon be proven as an antique.

      • Matt, nice try. As are no doubt aware, the ships are to go to Baseline 9 Aegis with BMD capability. With MK41 strike length VLS x 48, a reliable propulsion system and evolved from a highly successful Spanish design there is a lot to like.

  2. The price appears to be roughly the same as the t45 and fitted armament appears to be roughly the same also. Biggest difference in current fit out appears to be the torpedos, or the absence of them in the t45

    It would be interesting to know how well Aegis compares to the Sampson based system and how comparable the SM are vs aster 15/30.

      • Neither vessels are utilizing VLS systems, so it’s not really a difference as of today. HMAS uses tube launched Harpoon exactly as the t45’s.

        In theory the t45’s can be upgraded with VLS at some point in the future and so it is just a cost difference, the Hobart’s can be upgraded quicker and for less cost.

        • VLS can be used for anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine missiles. One involves buying a new missile type and another involves having to drydock and fit a launch tube in to a ship, taking it out of service for a decent length of time, as well as buying the new missiles. The Australian ship has a far greater capability than the type 45.

          • Not surre what you mean. Both ships have a 48 cell vls and 8 deck launched ASMs. The often discussed extra vls cells for the Type 45 would really be for ABM and she doesn’t need torpedoes. Sampson and Sea Viper is a more modern and technology superior AAW system compared to the Hobart’s Aegis equivalent.

  3. Matt, I’d love to know why you think it’s an outdated ship design. The only thing I can think of is in terms of decoys, and perhaps its helicopter capability.

  4. The only reason the Spanish ships got the nod is because of price. If you look at the maintenance problems they are experiencing with the Hobart class and Canberra class then they are not so effective. At present they spend more time alongside than at sea. Only time will tell if they will ever become an effective fleet unit.

    • That’s a bit rich. Both the Canberra and Hobart classes are new classes just being introduced into service, so they have problems that crop up just like any new class of ship.

  5. Ok here are some facts for those posting on this site that know literally zero about ship armaments.
    The type 45 destroyer has anti air SAMs only in its vl silo. These are Aster 30 and 15s which although good are not able in anyway to perform long range surface strike, land attack, anti ship warfare or anti submarine warfare.
    The Hobart class has a full strike length mk41 vl system capable of being fitted with SM6 BMD missiles, tomahawk, asroc and harpoon + potentially LRASM in the future.
    all of which makes the Hobart class a much better blended all-round design of warship.
    Remember the RN warships only have upto 8 harpoons and no anti submarine capability except for their embarked helos.
    Harpoon is going to be less and less available even though reprived for a period of time. Soon the RN will have no anti ship or land attack missile capability on its surface warships. This is a sad state of affairs.
    Lets get mk41 vl system fitted to type 45s asap, when they are in dry dock getting their propulsion problems fixed.
    Summary Type 45 superior air defence ship. Hobart better at everything else.

    • The have the tubes for potentially adding these extra weapons but they do not have the weapons. It’s not like you can just slot in a different weapon platform, it needs to be interested with the ships tactical systems, which would require a refit. It’s like saying you have a BMW with a max speed of 150mph when it’s factory limited to 120.

      Agreed the t45 doesnt currently have strike length missiles, but they can be fitted, should the budget come available. As such the differences are just paper ones currently.

      As to how long it would take to upgrade either vessel to the other weapon options, who knows and I suspect it again comes down to budget.

      • Have we placed the orders for the MK41 for the first 3 T26? If not then I would have thought that if T45 doesn’t get its Mk41 added now then it never will because at the moment the stars seem almost perfectly aligned for that to happen were the MoD to ever give the go ahead.

        The T45s are all scheduled for extensive work including cutting holes in the hull to rectify the propulsion/power issues so that would be the time to fit Mk41 to them with least disruption to their availability and if we are about to place a big-ish order for Mk41 for T26 that would be a great opportunity to add T45 Mk41s onto that purchase contract and hopefully get a better unit price due to it becoming a much bigger order. My guess is that it won’t happen though.

        • I don’t see the Type 45’s ever being equipped with mk41 unless there is a serious escalation with Russia (or the EU :P)
          It would be too much of an embarrassment for the MOD to explain why they where not equipped with mk41’s in the first place when they where cheaper and offered better more flexibility.
          I take it the French had the UK over a barrel and told them the cost of enabling Aster to fire from mk41 would quadruple the cost of the missile so buy our VLS instead and we will consider buying something made in Britain which never materialized.

      • The beauty about the Mk-41 VLS is that most of the weapons the RAN use are already integrated on to it hence the RAN don’t have to front up with expensive integration costs. If the RN decides to replace the Sylver VLS on the T-45 DDGs then they will have to front up with the integration costs on some of their current missile types.

  6. The Australian Government has recently committed to upgrading the Hobart AWDs from the Aegis combat management system’s baseline 8 to baseline 9 (baseline 8 was the latest version available when the AWD design was frozen for production).

    This is specifically to provide the Hobart Class with an anti-ballistic missile capability ostensibly to counter the North Korean missile threat which is now capable of reaching the Australian continent. This means the introduction of SM3 (and potentially SM6) missiles already used by the USN in this role.

    Further the Aegis combat management system Baseline 9 has also been mandated for RANs nine future frigates teamed with the Australian CEAFAR phased array radar.

    So from the mid 2020s the RAN will have 12 Aegis combat system equipped ships with an anti-ballistic missile capability. It may be sometime before the Royal Navy can match this capability with its Type 45 and then with half the number of ships (unless it chooses to similarly equip the Type 26).

    Aegis will also provide all of the RANs major surface combatants with a collaborative engagement capability (CEC) fully networked with coalition navies (USN Arleigh Burkes and Japanese and South Korean Aegis ships).

    Coupled with the RANs in service Seahawk Romeos with dipping sonar (identical to the USN’s latest and most capable ASW helo), Harpoon and potentially LRASM, the Hobarts will be one of the most versatile all round surface combatants at sea today.

    • I saw that as well, I’d be shocked if the RAN could afford 12 Aegis equipped ships. It would give them the second most powerful air defense fleet in the world.

      • I guess it may be shocking from a UK perspective, but the threat from North Korea and with a rising and increasingly bellicose China echoing the rise of Imperial Japan before WWII, the threat is a real and present danger in the Pacific.

        Australia may well need ‘the second most powerful air defence fleet in the world’. The takeout lesson from Australia’s short military history, and WWII in particular, is that reliance on a ‘great a powerful friend’ half a world away (then UK, now the US), means that they may not be able to come to your aid at the very time you need them most.

        As proved to be the case with the fall of Singapore, even with the best intentions, your ally and protector may be otherwise engaged in conflicts elsewhere, in the UK’s case fighting for its very existence. Expect to see Australia becoming increasingly self reliant, albeit quietly so without telegraphing this intent in a formal policy.

        Affordability isn’t likely to be the issue in this instance, a change of government could be though. Fortunately defence spending in Australia has strong public and bi-partisan political support. It isn’t generally the political and budgetary football that it appears to be in the UK.

    • Oscar Zulu is correct in what has been happening. It’s actually a really exciting time for the RAN with all the new toys they have been/are getting.

      https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-releases/joint-media-release-new-approach-naval-combat-systems

      All of the candidates for the frigate replacements will be large destroyer-sized ships equal in size to the Hobart and as time goes on, it’s looking more likely that will be an expanded Hobart class, though that has yet to be decided.

      The T26 and FREMM are still in the running and are extremely capable designs but are competing against a modified version of a hull that the local shipbuilders are already geared up for and producing right now. The schedule is tight and there is an expectation to start cutting steel ASAP. Now that Aegis has been mandated to be the CMS for the project it makes even more sense to just roll on into an evolved and expanded Hobart.

      Navantia is pitching it as the ‘F-5000’, however there will be some differences to the AAW focused Hobart class. The new class will emphasise ASW, so it will incorporate lessons learned from the Fridtjof Nansen class, will expand aviation capability to a dual hangar (for a pair of MH-60R or a single helo/multi-UAV mix) and add in all that specialised ASW gear.

      On the models presented by Navantia it does seem as though the hull has been stretched slightly at the forward section of the hangar to accomplish the extra hangar space. You can’t really trust marketing models though, so we will see.

      Note that the proposal retains the full 48 strike length Mk41 cells. It also replaces the PESA SPY-1 with the CEAFAR2 which is a larger development of the highly successful CEAFAR upgrade applied to the ANZAC frigates.

      Oscar Zulu, there is one thing I may disagree with though. I don’t see the future Aussie ‘frig-stroyers’ having an independent ABM capability for a long time, if ever. The Aegis software has been specifically developed (over a long time) to use the SPY-1 for exactly that very niche role. Dropping in the CEAFAR2 with the aim of performing that role would take many years of development and testing.

      I would hazard a guess that the overall idea might that the new ships with Aegis capabilities like CEC will allow them to be SM-3 and SM-6 shooters while being fed targeting from any number of other platforms. It really lines up well with the ADFs ‘network-centric’ developments of late.

      I also think it will also be the 2030’s before you see all 9 ships active, but yes, 12 very capable ships in the end. The RAN will finally have a true ‘mini-Burke’ with the new ships. They will have extremely potent ASW capability, AShM defence and broad area air defence and still have an abundance of Mk41 cells to perhaps start adding new capabilities such as TLAM, ASROC or LRASM to make them true all-purpose heavy hitters.

      P.S. Elliott: besides the previous builds of the LHD’s, in the last year Navantia also acquired the contract for the replenishment ship replacements. The Australian government seems to be quite happy to do business with them!

      • Disagree all you want tman but the Australian Governments stated intention is exactly that – the nine future frigates will have an ABM capability. Following is the verbatim quote for the Australian PM at the announcement.

        “Recent events in our region have proven that Australia’s future frigates must be equipped to defend Australia from the threat of medium and long-range missile attacks,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the Pacific 17 maritime and naval showcase, referencing North Korea. “We must have the capability to meet and defeat them.”

        I’d say that is a pretty clear statement of intent wouldn’t you?

        As for the CEAFAR being a limitation it is already a much more capable and advanced platform than people give it credit for. It has a proven capability on the ANZAC class of being able to track and intercept multiple supersonic cruise missiles. The RAN is one of the few navies currently that have demonstrated this capability against real (rather than simulated) targets.

        Yes it will require a number of years of testing to get there, but it will use both the Raytheon missiles and the Aegis system used in the USN’s existing ABM capability. I think the US would be happy to see Australia develop this capability in the Pacific region. There might be some ‘technology transfer’ – LM have already worked with the RAN on CEAFAR.

        Also agree that it mightily strengthens the case for the Navantia F5000. In effect both the Fincantieri and Type 26 are now very long odds indeed.

  7. Hi Oscar Zulu,

    Nice talking! I am largely agreeing with you but you are making a couple of big assumptions…

    Most of my response was a general reply to a previous commenters’ ‘shock’ that the RAN is currently, and is continuing to make great strides in capability enhancement. It’s particularly impressive given how most ‘western’ fleets are either downsizing or even struggling to maintain current numbers. It’s best not to get too carried away though.

    The ADF has shown that it prefers more efficient solutions to problems rather than taking the full US approach of trying to platinum plate every platform in what ends up being a costly exercise of trying to get every platform to do everything.

    More to the point, regarding your comments, yes, I am completely aware of every bit of information you have mentioned, but given the many possible approaches to BMD, no, it is not a clear statement. Sorry.

    BMD is a complicated issue. You don’t buy Aegis ships and suddenly, magically have a functional BMD.

    There will be some form of system in place but assuming it will be a mirror image of the US approach is a mistake. You can bet that thanks to Aegis it will tie in with the US system quite seamlessly though, which is of greatest benefit, given the number of hulls they have floating around. I would say that this is the driver behind the choice.

    I think that you can agree that even despite many years of US effort and countless dollars being spent, even using multiple of their most capable BMD tasked Burkes today, they couldn’t guarantee fully consistent results against BMs. BMD ‘American style’ is an endless money pit and I think Australian politicians can easily recognise that.

    Also I think you need to recognise the reality that even with 12 ships you are typically looking at 4 deployed. 4 ships will not protect the entire continent of Australia. More so, not all deployed ships will be on BMD all the time. So now the scenario is down to 2 ships?

    So now you see that Australia simply cannot have a complete ship based system alone.

    Then further consider that BMD is not simply ship based. It has to be layered. The US uses GMD/GBI as its high end, Aegis ships as the roaming post-boost and re-entry option, THAAD as its region/state sized layer and then PAC-3 as its last resort point defence. Note here that US Aegis optimised ships can’t actually deal with a true ICBM outside of boost and re-entry.

    And so, this is why I brought up the thought that, yes, the CMS and missiles on hand will allow the ships to approach the threat at a certain level but CEAFAR2 doesn’t necessarily make it a complete package. Even if Aegis/ATI could be as highly optimised for it as it has for SPY-1 it still wouldn’t constitute a true BMD due to the lack of hulls and the limitations of the package as a whole.

    I’m sure CEAFAR2 will be an amazing performer that handles everything from advanced AShM to high altitude aircraft in line with the best systems from around the world. This is what it was made to do. It’s been an impressive program and will continue to impress, I am certain.

    But again, consider that the US is currently preoccupied with getting the AN/SPY-6 off the ground and on to ships. I would hope that this work will probably help bring CEAFAR to a similar capability eventually but as I said this is probably very far away.

    Which finally brings us to the decade or two estimate I made to reach that point. If ever. Because last I checked, no ground based interceptors of any other level as mentioned above have been ordered.

    This is why I said: “I would hazard a guess that the overall idea might that the new ships with Aegis capabilities like CEC will allow them to be SM-3 and SM-6 shooters while being fed targeting from any number of other platforms. It really lines up well with the ADFs ‘network-centric’ developments of late.”

    Being able to interlink with allies like the US is always going to be the most sensible end game. The highly advanced aerial platforms the RAAF have and continue to acquire add greatly to this.

    Truthfully, I feel that threats of missiles from North Korea still sit far outside reality and currently just serve to create a good excuse to get some exceptionally capable ships with minimal public/political bickering. This is a good thing!

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