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BAE set to begin work on Australian Navy's first LHD

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An illustration of the new LHD. A BAE photo

WILLIAMSTOWN (BNS): BAE Systems Australia is gearing up to begin the next phase of construction work on the first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) for the Royal Australian Navy as it prepares to receive the amphibious ship's hull in the coming days.

The Australian Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, announced on Wednesday that the country's first LHD had entered Australian waters on its way to Melbourne after the LHD01 hull was transported from Spain.

"In the last few months, works have proceeded at a rapid pace as we prepare for the arrival of the first hull," BAE Systems Director Maritime, Bill Saltzer said.

"Construction, outfitting and consolidation of the four sections of the superstructure is continuing in the Williamstown yard and this includes the mast modules fabricated at the BAE Systems yard at Henderson in Western Australia.

"Preparation works have also included a multi-million dollar upgrade to Nelson Pier where the ship will be docked," the official said.

The hull of the new warship, which will join the Australian Navy as HMAS Canberra, was launched at Spanish shipbuilder Navantia's Ferrol facility in February, 2011.

The Australian subsidiary of British defence major BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to build two LHDs for the Australian Navy. While the Spanish shipyard Navantia has been entrusted with the task of constructing the hull of the two LHDs, the superstructures for the ships will be built at BAE Systems Australia's Williamstown dockyard.

The second ship of the class, to be commissioned as HMAS Adelaide, is slated to arrive in Australia in 2014.

The two ships are being built for the Australian Navy for sophisticated air-land-sea deployment. The warships will be based on the design of Juan Carlos I - the largest amphibious assault ship of the Spanish Navy which joined service in October 2010.

The 27,000 tonne LHDs will be able to land a force of over 2,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores. Each ship is capable of carrying 12 helicopters.

The RAN expects to induct the two ships in its fleet by 2014-15.

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