The first of Australia’s new Spanish-designed 27,000-ton amphibious-assault ships, to be named Canberra, is pictured here being launched on 18 February at Navantia Dockyards in Ferrol, Spain. The ship is expected to arrive in Australia next year, where she will be fitted out for planned service entry in 2014. A second unit of the class, to be named Adelaide, will enter service in 2015. The Royal Australian Navy has suffered a number of recent setbacks to its amphibious fleet, including the discovery of major hull corrosion on HMAS Manoora, a retired U.S. Newport-class auxiliary transport (ex–Fairfax County, LST-1193). The problem forced the early retirement of the 8,000-ton vessel and put a significant strain on the fleet. Sister ship Kanimbla (ex-Saginaw, LST-1188) faces serious, though less dramatic, challenges and is undergoing repairs that are expected to be completed by mid-2012. To make matters worse, the acquisition of six new LCM landing craft was canceled early this year due to a number of problems with the program.
By Eric Wertheim