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Australian Navy to decommission HMAS Manoora by 2012-end

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HMAS Manoora. An Australian Navy photo

CANBERRA (BNS): The Royal Australian Navy will decommission its amphibious ship HMAS Manoora by the end of next year and will induct new landing helicopter docks (LHDs) in the coming years, Defence Minister Stephen Smith has announced.

HMAS Manoora, a Kanimbla class landing platform amphibious ship, was originally built for the US Navy as USS Fairfax County.

It was acquired by the Australian Navy in 1994.

The warship was placed on operational pause by the Seaworthiness Board in September last year.

An examination of the over 40 year old ship revealed it required remediation of significant hull corrosion and the replacement of both gear boxes. This work would cost over $20 million and would take until April 2012 to complete.

“That is not value for money for another nine months of service,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the Navy will acquire two Canberra Class landing helicopter docks to replace HMAS Manoora and two other amphibious support ships – HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Tobruk.

The hull of the first Canberra class LHD, HMAS Canberra, will be launched on February 18 in the Spanish shipyard Navantia which is building the new ships along with UK's BAE Systems.

The hull will arrive in Melbourne next year for further work to be completed at the Williamstown Shipyard before the LHD becomes operational in early 2014.

The second LHD, HMAS Adelaide, is scheduled to be operational by June 2015.

The new warships, which will be the largest ever to be built for the Australian Navy, will provide air support besides taking on amphibious assault, transport and command centre roles.

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