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LS Paul Berry
THE first of the two new Landing
Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships
was officially named Canberra
in a traditional ceremony at BAE
Systems Williamstown Dockyard
in Victoria on February 15.
The LHDs will be the key to the
ADF’s amphibious strategy.
About 200 guests joined 350 BAE
shipyard workers for the ceremony
officiated by Chief of Navy VAdm
Among the guests were Prime
Minister Julia Gillard and Defence
Minister Stephen Smith, CDF Gen
David Hurley, CA Lt-Gen David
Morrison and Spanish Defence
Minister Pedro Morenés Eulate.
VAdm Griggs said NUSHIP
Canberra would be at the centre of
the transformation of the ADF.
“Like all naval ships, it is the util-
ity across the spectrum of operations
that is most critical,” VAdm Griggs
“This ship will give the govern-
ment options for humanitarian assis-
tance and disaster relief at one end of
the spectrum, through to stabilisation
operations, peacekeeping operations
and right through, if needed, to com-
bat operations,” he said.
CA Lt-Gen Morrison said Army
would be heavily involved with the
new LHDs. The nesting of a dedi-
cated amphibious capability within
3 Bde in Townsville is essential to
ensuring Army can deliver land forces
to contribute to joint operations in its
primary operation environment, par-
ticularly the archipelagic approaches
to northern Australia.
The chief said soldiers from
2RAR had taken up the job of devel-
oping a skill and knowledge base in
amphibious operations to allow effec-
tive projection of land forces from
“Over the course of about five
years we’re going to let 2RAR devel-
op that capability as we bring these
ships into service and we start to
understand what it means to be an
amphibious-ready element,” Lt-Gen
“As the capability matures our
troops will be capable of conducting
a range of amphibious operations, in
particular short-notice humanitarian
or non-combatant evacuation opera-
tions,” he said.
“Army will also contribute other
combat, combat support and combat
service support capabilities to trials
throughout the year.”
About 360 crew members drawn
from all three services will be posted
on board NUSHIP Canberra.
Troops will be fully integrated
into the ship’s company, performing
key roles in the executive, amphibi-
ous, aviation and logistics depart-
The ship was named by Vickie
Coates, wife of the late RAdm
Nigel Coates who served a distin-
guished career in the Navy and died
in June 2010.
RAdm Coates was a former Fleet
Commander and CO of HMAS
“I name this ship Canberra. May
God bless her and all who serve in
her,” Mrs Coates said to applause
and three cheers from the large
Guests made their way through
Canberra’s stern door and walked
200m into the vast, cavernous belly
of the mighty ship for the ceremony.
VAdm Griggs said he was keen
to conduct the ceremony inside the
“Coming inside the ship gives a
totally different perspective of what
this ship has to offer and the scale
of what we are dealing with,” VAdm
This is the third Australian
Navy ship to bear the proud name
Canberra (I) was a County-class
heavy cruiser which served with dis-
tinction until she was heavily dam-
aged and sunk during the Battle of
Savo Island in August 1942.
In 1943 the US Navy named a
Baltimore-class heavy cruiser the
USS Canberra in recognition of the
valour displayed by HMAS Canberra
during that battle.
The USS Canberra is the only US
Navy warship named for a foreign
warship or a foreign capital city.
Canberra (II) was a guided
missile frigate and participated
in numerous operations, the most
recent being Operation Slipper. It
was decommissioned in 2009.
NUSHIP Canberra has been
proudly assigned the “02” pennant
number, the same as Canberra (II).
Prime Minister Gillard said the
naming was a great day for the Navy,
for the ADF and for the defence of
“Canberra and her sister LHD
will give our Navy and our Defence
Force as a whole an entirely new
ability to defend Australia and our
interests,” Ms Gillard said.
“They will give our Defence
Force an unprecedented ability to
exercise and operate on land and
sea, supporting amphibious opera-
tions and operating independently
in our region and beyond like never
before,” she said.
Ms Gillard paid tribute to the vet-
erans of HMAS Canberra (I), some
of whom were present at the cer-
“No HMAS Canberra has ever let
us down,” Ms Gillard said.
“I know we will be proud of the
new ship Canberra and all who sail
NUSHIP Canberra is due to be
accepted into service in 2014 fol-
lowed by her sister ship in 2015.
Amphib ship named
The first of two Landing Helicopter Dock ships has been officially named Canberra
Big reveal: (From left) NUSHIP Canberra Engineering Officer Cmdr
Dave Walter, Commander of the Australian Fleet, RAdm Tim Barrett,
CA Lt-Gen David Morrison and BAE Australia Ship Construction
Manager Paul Thomas inspect the ship following the naming ceremony
at Williamstown. Inset: BAE Australia’s Jim Parkes and Naming Lady
Vickie Coates unveil the NUSHIP Canberra name plate as official
guests look on.
Photos by LS Paul Berry and PO Ollie Garside
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