The Royal Australian Navy’s Amphibious Force at Full Strength


By Lieutenant Rilana Ostheim

The Royal Australian Navy is now one of the world’s premier amphibious forces after the fleet’s two Canberra-class landing helicopter docks (LHDs) and landing craft achieved final operational capability.

The entire amphibious capability acquired under Joint Project 2048 – including HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra, their 12 landing craft and amphibious supporting organisations – achieved the milestone in early November, confirming their ability to deliver and deploy the full scope of amphibious operations.

One of the officers on board Canberra, officer of the watch Sub Lieutenant Erika Peters, has been part of the ship’s company for the past 11 months.

“This year has been a busy year for Canberra and its crew, with the deployment on Indo-Pacific Endeavour our longest and most distant deployment to date, visiting India, Sri Lanka and countries across South-East Asia,” Sub Lieutenant Peters said.

“We have been involved in a number of foreign interactions and engagements, which all helped us to build strong relationships with our international counterparts and develop as a highly reliable and effective ship.

“It is a unique experience to be part of one of only two landing helicopter docks, especially due to the size of the ship and its deployable capabilities.”

As the centrepiece of Australia’s amphibious force, the Canberra-class have the ability to complete operations from amphibious warfare through to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“It is a unique experience to be part of one of only two landing helicopter docks, especially due to the size of the ship and its deployable capabilities.”

Able Seaman Grant Davies, who joined the ship only weeks before its departure for Indo-Pacific Endeavour, said the past year had been a huge learning experience.

“This year has been the longest time I have been at sea and I have learned a lot about my job,” Able Seaman Davies said.

“Being away from home had its challenges, but Canberra is a very good ship and the team worked well together.

“Everyone’s job contributes to the bigger picture and we ensure that amphibious forces and other non-permanent crew feel integrated on board.”

At 230 metres long and with a possible speed of more than 20 knots, the 27,500-tonne LHDs are highly reliable and effective ships with capabilities that include six helicopter positions and four integral ship-to-shore connectors, which are able to carry all of Army’s in-service vehicles, including the M1A1 main battle tank.

This year, for the first time, both ships participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre.

Canberra has returned to her home port at Garden Island, while Adelaide is deployed to the South-West Pacific.

This article was first published on The Australian Department of Defence website on November 13, 2019.

The featured photo shows HMAS Adelaide and her sister ship HMAS Canberra sailing in company through heavy seas in the East Australian Exercise Area off the coast of NSW.

Photo: Leading Seaman Peter Thompson