HMAS Adelaide dry-docked as Defence struggles to fix billion-dollar military ship

Updated 18 May 2017, 0:00 AEST

Exclusive by Defence reporter Andrew Greene

One of the Australian Navy’s largest warships, HMAS Adelaide, is undergoing urgent repairs in Sydney as naval engineers scramble to fix engine problems with the $1.5-billion vessel, which was only commissioned into service 18 months ago.

One of the Royal Australian Navy’s largest warships, HMAS Adelaide, has been dry-docked as naval engineers scramble to fix engine problems with the $1.5-billion vessel.

It is still unknown how long it will take to repair the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), which was only commissioned into service 18 months ago.

HMAS Adelaide’s sister ship HMAS Canberra also remains out of action, berthed at Sydney’s Garden Island Naval base.

“You don’t expect it when it’s a few years old. This is capability that we should be confident that we got the specifications right and it should be operational,” said David Smith from Professionals Australia, a union representing scientists and engineers in Defence.

“It’s incredibly significant given the billions of dollars we’re investing in naval capability.”

In March, the ABC revealed HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide had been sent to Garden Island after problems were identified with their propulsion systems.

HMAS Adelaide was moved into dry dock at Garden Island early on Wednesday morning but Defence is giving few details on the progress of the investigation and repair work.

“During first-of-class flight trials, Defence identified an emergent issue with the propulsion systems of HMAS Canberra. HMAS Adelaide was also inspected and there are indications of a similar issue,” the Defence Department said in a statement.

“Defence has adopted a deliberate and disciplined approach to resolve this problem early in the ships’ life.”

Defence Minister Marise Payne has also expressed frustration at the time taken to repair mechanical problems with the Navy’s two largest ships.

“This is the period of time in which, in Defence acquisition and implementation terms, we’ve identified these sorts of issues and we address them,” she said.

“That’s not to say that it’s not frustrating that it has been an issue that’s under examination for some time.”

Some Defence insiders fear the engine issues on both ships will not be resolved before next month’s Talisman Sabre military exercises with the United States, but the department and Minister are refusing to speculate.

“Whatever time that takes is frankly the time that it will take. I don’t intend to ask them to rush it, I don’t intend them to work to an artificial or self imposed deadline from anyone else,” Ms Payne said.

Labor MP David Feeney is demanding the Government reveal publicly exactly what is wrong with the Royal Australian Navy’s two LHDs.

“This Government I think now needs to step up to the plate and explain precisely what the circumstances are,” he said.

“Moving these ships in the dead of night might be tricky but it’s not actually telling the Australian people what we need to know — what is the status of these ships,” he said.

Original post


HMAS Adelaide (III)


The largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Amphibious Assault Ships also known as Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) were built by contractors BAE Systems Australia and Navantia.

The ships provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.

Each ship is divided into 112 modules, which are built and fitted out as discrete units and then consolidated together to form the completed ship. This allows work on the ship to be completed at a number of different locations prior to assembly. There are 105 modules that make up the hull and seven modules that make up the superstructure.

The construction of the hull to the level of the flight deck and the majority of fitting out was undertaken at Navantia’s shipyard in Ferrol, Spain. The work undertaken at the BAE Systems shipyard in Williamstown, Victoria, included consolidation of the superstructure and installation of the Combat and Communication Systems.

The vessels can embark, transport and deploy military forces along with their equipment and supporting aviation assets.

The ships have a conventional steel mono hull design with the superstructure located on the starboard side of the flight deck. They are designed with the shallowest possible draft to operate in secondary ports and harbours as well as manoeuvre in the shallow waters common in the littoral regions.


There are four main decks; heavy vehicle, accommodation, hangar and light vehicles and flight decks.

Purpose build water craft will enable transport of troops and equipment to shore, including where there are no fixed port facilities.

The ships are equipped with modern Command and Control and combat systems including air and surface radar, advanced communications capability and surveillance systems.

The ships are fitted with defensive systems and weaponry including an anti-torpedo towed system and gunnery.

HMAS Adelaide was commissioned at a ceremony at Fleet Base East, Sydney on 4 December 2015.

Engine source
Commanding Officer
Canberra Class
United for the Common Good
Home Port
BAE Systems Australia and Navantia
Laid Down
18 February 2011
4 July 2012
4 December 2015
News Articles
Image Gallery
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 27,800 tonnes (unloaded and not docked down)
Length 230 metres
  • 32 metres
  • 29.5 metres (at waterline)
  • 7 metres (transit)
  • 10 metres (docked down)
Flight Deck
  • 202.3 metres (length)
  • 32 metres (width)
  • 4,750 square metres (area)
  • 27.5 metres (height)
  • 20+ knots (maximum)
  • 19 knots (sustained maximum at full-load)
  • 15 knots (economic cruising)
  • up to 8 knots (reversing speed with full directional control)
  • 6,000 nautical miles (at 20 knots)
  • 9,000 nautical miles (at 15 knots)
Physical Countermeasures
  • SLQ-25C towed torpedo decoy
  • 4 BAE Nulka decoy launchers



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