Australian Amphibious Ships Face Propulsion Challenge


05/21/2017: According to several sources, Australia’s largest warships have experienced a propulsion system problem at sea and the Navy and its contractors are working to fix the problem.

Australian naval engineers are investigating the problems in the propulsion systems of two Spanish-built warships.

The Royal Australian Navy’s US$1.5 billion worth HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra are facing an issue with its propulsion systems. “Oils have leaked into parts of the vessels’ propulsion system where they shouldn’t be,” naval chiefs said in a briefing on Friday, The Straits Times report.

Rear Admiral Adam Grunsell, the head of maritime systems in defence force’s capability acquisition and sustainment group, said the problem could be a design issue, though it is too early to speculate.

Both Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) were built by Spanish firm Navantia using propulsion pods from German company Siemens and fitted with combat and communications systems by British company BAE Systems.

The three companies are working with the navy to help identify the problems.

The photos show HMAS Canberra returning to sea on 18 May to conduct sea trials off Sydney. These trials are engineering focused to test the interim repairs made to the propulsions pods and verify the state of the system.  

The sea trials are being conducted in conjunction with industry partners including original equipment manufacturers. The photos in the slideshow are credited to the Australian Department of Defence

According to ABC News Australia:

The Navy has now confirmed HMAS Adelaide will no longer participate in next month’s planned Talisman Sabre exercises with the United States, and says it is too early to say whether HMAS Canberra will also be able to take part.

It had been hoped both LHDs would show off the Royal Australian Navy’s new amphibious capability during war games with American forces off the Queensland coast…..

Vice Admiral Barrett said once the problems were identified all three manufacturers were immediately contacted.

“We’ve highlighted with the CEOs of each of those companies the significance of these ships to our capability and the need to work together to be able to solve it,” he said.
He has also revealed it is not the first time the Navy has had to dock an LHD for repair work.

“We had an issue with high voltage, which again in a ship that’s driven by electric engines,” he said.

“Again, we at the time had the equipment manufacturer come in and there were changes we needed to make.”