The landing craft aboard Australia’s Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships have undergone significant modification and testing over the past two years to make them capable of carrying M1A1 Abrams tanks.
CAPTION: An LHD landing craft carries an M1A1 Abrams tank in Townsville Harbour during post-upgrade trials. Royal Australian Navy Photo.
In 2017, media reports (including in CONTACT), based on answers given in Senate Estimates, proved embarrassing for the Royal Australian Navy when it was revealed that their LLC – LHD landing craft – were incapable of carrying an Abrams tank from ship to shore.
But, a Defence spokesman told CONTACT today that, since 2017, Defence had made significant progress to develop and expand the LLC’s ability to carry large, heavy loads – though they did qualify this news by specifying “in benign sea states”.
“Navy has included engineered wooden dunnage across the LLC decks to spread the vehicle point load and protect the steel deck from tracked vehicles,” the spokesman said.
“Navy has also worked in partnership with industry to modify the engine-room bulkhead, which has increased the craft’s damage stability – meaning the LLC can carry a heavier load after sustaining action damage in more demanding sea states.
“A series of tests – including a scale model of the LLC was wave-tank tested by Marine Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN) – has shown the LLC is able to carry the Abraham’s M1A1 main battle tank.
“Operational trials of the LLC in Townsville Harbour and in Shoalwater Bay in July enabled Navy and Army to test this in real-world conditions.
“These trials have proven the LLC is capable of carrying the Abraham [sic] MBT and heavier support vehicles across the full range of sea states expected to be operated by the amphibious force.”
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said via Facebook that an LHD landing craft had embarked an Australian Army M1A1 Abrams for the first time on 25 July 2019, paving the way for LCHs’ final certification.
“As we draw closer to achieving Final Operational Capability for Australia’s Amphibious Task Group, Thursday marked the first time LHD landing craft embarked an Australian Army M1A1 Main Battle Tank,” Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said.
“Our amphibious capability stands ready to defend Australia and our national interests.”
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