09/23/2015: Australia’s newest military capability, the Amphibious Ready Element, commanded by the Amphibious Task Group Headquarters and comprising HMAS Canberra, Air Force assets and supported by the Army’s 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and other Army units, has been conducting Exercise SEA EXPLORER, which is the second of the ‘Sea Series’ of exercises.
The focus of the exercises is on training and assessing the Amphibious Ready Element in a permissive environment scenario which is currently taking place in waters off the North Queensland coast from August through to October.
Credit: Australian Ministry of Defence:9/8/15
According to a September 2, 2015 story by Australian Aviation:
The Royal Australian Navy’s amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra has completed a graduated operational test and trials program, thereby achieving a key milestone on the path to initial operational capability (IOC).
The program included integration of landing craft, as well as trials for the crew and ship and aviation systems, Defence stated. The S-70B-2 Seahawk, Black Hawk and MRH 90 helicopters have now all been evaluated for operations from the Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett stated that reaching this milestone means HMAS Canberrahas completed the training and evaluation activities required to undertake specific operations as directed by the federal government.
“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,” he said.
“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 second LHD, NUSHIP Adelaide, is expected to enter service later this year, and will commence a similar program to HMAS Canberra early next year. Defence said it is anticipated that Chief of Navy will be in a position to declare final operational capability (FOC) for the ships in late 2017.
NUSHIP Adelaide has completed her final sea trials and returned to the Williamstown shipyard in Melbourne to be prepared for delivery. Prime contractor BAE Systems stated that the main focus of the trials was on testing the combat and communications systems over a 10-day period during the journey from Williamstown to Jervis Bay and back.