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Canberra class

Amphibious assault ship

Canberra class

The Canberra class ships are the largest vessels ever operated by the Royal Australian Navy

Entered service 2014
Crew 280 men
Sea endurance 17 000 km at 15 knots
Dimensions and displacement
Length 231 m
Beam 32 m
Draught 7 m
Displacement, standard ?
Displacement, full load 27 500 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed up to 24 knots
Propulsion 1 x LM2500 gas turbine, delivering electricity to two azimuth thrusters
Troops 1 125 men
Troops (surge capacity) 1 600 men
Vehicles ~ 45 tanks
Landing craft
Landing craft 4 x LCM-1E
Helicopters 8-18 x NH90 or S-70B Seahawk
Artillery 4 x 25-mm remotely-controlled cannons


   The Australian Canberra class amphibious assault ships are similar in concept to the US Navy Wasp class. These ships can land marines and their vehicles on enemy territory and support them. These ships are also referred as Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs).

   In 2004 two French and Spanish companies were invited to tended proposals. Shipbuilders from the United States were not included, as American amphibious assault ships were too large for Australian requirements. Eventually the French DCN company offered a larger version of Mistral class amphibious assault ship and the Spanish Naviantia company offered Juan Carlos I design. In 2007 the Spanish proposal was selected as it was closer to Royal Australian Navy's requested requirements. Construction of the first ship, known as Canberra class, commenced in 2008 in Australia. Two Canberra class ships will be built for the Royal Australian Navy. The first ship, HMAS Canberra, was laid down in 2009. It was commissioned in 2014. The second ship of the class, HMAS Adelaide, was laid down in 2011. It is planned to be commissioned in 2016. Even though the HMAS Canberra was built first, it will carries a pennant number L02, and the HMAS Adelaide - L01.

   The Canberra class ships will play an important role in service with Australian Navy. It will add a much needed amphibious assault capability. The new ships will replace Kanimbla class landing ships and HMAS Tobruk heavy landing ship.

   The Canberra class ships have the same dimensions as the Spanish Juan Carlos I, but different internal layout and island superstructure. Even though both the Spanish Juan Carlos I and Australian Canberra class ships are multi-functional, the Juan Carlos I has stronger air wing and the Canberra class ships have stronger amphibious assault capability.

   This Canberra class amphibious assault ships are operated by a crew of 280 sailors. These LHDs can carry 1 125 troops. Surge capacity is 1 600 troops.

   These warships have two vehicle decks. One of them is for light vehicles. The other is for heavy vehicles and tanks. Alternatively the heavy vehicle deck can be used for cargo and carry 196 shipping containers.

   There are four LCM-1E landing craft housed in a well deck. These are used for delivery of troops, vehicles and supplies from ship to shore. These landing craft can operate in sea conditions up to Sea State 4.

   The flight deck is 202 meters long and 32 meters wide. It has 6 spots for NH90 or S-70B Seahawk size helicopters that can operate simultaneously. Alternatively up to 4 larger Chinook size helicopters can operate simultaneously. Flight operations can be conducted up to Sea State 5. Typical airgroup is a mix of NH90 transport helicopters and S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters. The hangar accommodates 8 medium-size helicopters. A room can be made for additional 10 helicopters in the light vehicle deck. There are two elevators for the helicopters that connect hangar with the flight deck.

   The original Juan Carlos I was designed to operate V/STOL aircraft. The Canberra class ships retain sky-jump ramps but need some modifications in order to operate fixed-wing aircraft such as the F-35B. In the near future there are no plans to operate fixed-wing aircraft from these ships.

   Defense of these amphibious assault ships is provided by escort vessels. There are only four Rafael Typhoon 25-mm remote weapon stations and six 12.7-mm machine guns for self-defense.

   Propulsion is provided by two Siemens 11 MW (15 000 hp) electric azimuth thrusters. Electricity is provided by a combined diesel and gas system with a single General Electric LM2500 gas turbine, developing 19 160 kW (25 690 hp). It has been reported that maximum speed of these ships is 24 knots (45 km/h). Economical speed is 15 knots (28 km/h). These ships have a range of 9 000 nautical miles (17 000 km) at 15 knots.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
HMAS Canberra (L02) 2009 2011 2014

active, in service

HMAS Adelaide (L01) 2011 2012 expected in 2016

sea trials



Video of the Canberra class amphibious assault ship


Canberra class

Canberra class

Canberra class

Canberra class

Canberra class

Canberra class

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