Commissioned in 2015, the HMAS Adelaide is the second of two Australia’s Landing Helicopter Dock carrier.
Australia is the largest country in Oceania and ranks sixth in the world in terms of area. According to the International Monetary Fund, Australia is the 13th largest economy, per capita income ranked 10th in the world. Economic growth has enabled the Australian government to invest heavily in defense “elite and modern” way.
The Royal Australian Navy is considered to be the most elite water combat force in the South Pacific. The Royal Australian Navy can perform campaigns worldwide. They have 47 military vessels of all kinds, about more than 14,000 permanent personnel and 8,500 reserves.
In the context of China’s increasing influence in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, The Royal Australian Navy has made plans to strengthen its naval power. They have officially launched two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock.
According to the Royal Australian Navy, two HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide will provide the country with one of the world’s most advanced landing force deployment systems. They will contribute to direct protection of the country and national interests as well as allow large-scale domestic and regional humanitarian support.
It can be said that two Canberra-class will be a game changer for Australia’s military power in Asia-Pacific in the near future. Even the top Chinese scholars have paid special attention to both Canberra-class ships and the Royal Australian Navy.
According to Chinese media, Australia is considered to be the most influential country in the South China Sea, the maritime area that China is trying to strengthen. The operation of both Australian Navy Canberra-class ships will become the biggest threat to Beijing’s strategy in the South China Sea.
Commissioned in 2015, the HMAS Adelaide is the second of two Australia’s Landing Helicopter Dock carrier. Construction of the ship started at Navantia’s Spanish shipyard with steel-cutting in February 2010. The ship was laid down in February 2011, and launched on 4 July 2012.
This ship and her sister HMAS Canberra are the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, the Amphibious Assault Ships also known as Landing Helicopter Docks. The ships provide the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.
The Canberra-class design is based on the warship Juan Carlos I, built by Navantia for the Spanish Navy. The ship is divided into 112 modules, which are built and fitted out as discrete units and then consolidated together to form the completed ship. The Adelaide incorporate a conventional steel mono hull with the superstructure placed on the starboard side of the flight deck. The shallowest possible draft allows the vessel to operate in shallow waters that are common in the littoral regions.
The ship is 230.82 metres long overall, with a maximum beam of 32 metres, and a maximum draught of 7.08 metres. At full load, Adelaide will displace 27,500 tonnes, making her the largest vessels to serve in the Royal Australian Navy.
The Landing Helicopter Dock is powered by a combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion system integrating LM 2500 gas turbine and two MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators. The ship is also equipped with two Siemens azimuth thrusters and two bow thrusters. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 20 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical mile.
The ship comprises four main decks, including well deck and heavy vehicle deck, main accommodation deck, hangar and light vehicle deck, and flight deck. The ramp at the stern of the ship provides access to the well dock. The heavy vehicle is accessed through two lateral ramp doors on the starboard side. A fixed ramp on the port side allows the vehicles to move between the heavy and light vehicle decks.
The well deck normally accommodates four LCM 1E amphibious landing craft. Four additional rigid hulled inflatable boats can be carried during emergency situations. The well deck is also capable of housing landing craft utilities, amphibious vehicles and landing craft air cushions.
The flight deck can operate six MRH-90-size helicopters or four Chinook-size helicopters simultaneously, in conditions up to Sea State 5. A mix of MRH-90 transport helicopters and S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters will be carried: up to eight can be stored in the hangar deck, and the light vehicle deck can be repurposed to fit another ten.
The ship can accommodate up to 1,400 personnel, including 400 ship’s company and 1,000 embarked troops. The crew accommodation facilities are located in the main accommodation deck and crew cabins, messing, medical rooms, galley, office spaces and recreation facilities.
The ship is equipped with modern Command and Control and combat systems including a Saab 9LV Mark 4 combat management system. The sensor suite includes a Sea Giraffe 3D surveillance radar, and a Vampir NG infrared search and track system.
The ships are fitted with defensive systems and weaponry including four Rafael Typhoon 25 mm remote weapons systems, six 12.7 mm machine guns, an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy, and a Nulka missile decoy. Defence against aircraft and larger targets is to be provided by escort vessels and air support from the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Adelaide and Canberra also took part in RIMPAC 2016, but it was sent back to port at the same time in 2017 as the Canberra with the same problems. Given that both ships, which were commissioned around the same time, had similar problems at the same time, might very well hint at design problems. One of the problems appeared to have been that faulty engine seals were leaking oil into different engine areas.
On January 5, 2020, Adelaide sailed as part of Operation Bushfire Assist, assisting with the Royal Australian Navy’s ongoing efforts to help evacuate people from bushfire zones that have become cut off by road and air due to conditions.
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