The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) auxiliary transport Manoora (ex-Fairfax County, LST-1193) is shown on post-conversion trials in Sydney harbor in February. The 8,450-ton (full-load displacement) former tank landing ship and sister Kanimbla (ex-Saginaw, LST-1188) were purchased from the U.S. Navy in 1994, but their extensive conversions to carry some 450 Australian Army troops and their equipment, up to four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, and two LCM(8) landing craft have been protracted. The conversions are something like 300% over budget and two years behind schedule, in part because of the discovery of extensive corrosion and neglected machinery. The resultant political furor may hamstring RAN plans to purchase at least two and possibly all of the prematurely discarded Kidd (DDG-993)-class guided-missile destroyers later this year.
By A.D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World