Naval Ship Management (NSM), together with the ACS SPO, has been named award winner of ADM’s 2021 Essington Lewis Major Sustainment – over $20M category for the First of Class upgrade to HMAS Canberra as part of the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) five-year maintenance program.
HMAS Canberra, as one of the two flagships of the Navy, is the cornerstone of joint amphibious and disaster relief operations.
Sustainment of the two Canberra class LHDs is the responsibility of the LHD Enterprise – a collaboration between the Commonwealth (Amphibious Combat and Sealift Systems Program Office, Amphibious and Afloat Support Force Element Group, and the Fleet Support Unit); Naval Ship Management (NSM) as the Asset Class Prime Contractor; and Navantia Australia, L3Harris and Saab Australia as Industry Enterprise Participants.
Dockings are critical to maintaining ongoing vessel capability and availability and are part of the Usage Upkeep Cycle established for any naval vessel. For the LHDs, they occur once every five-years.
Sporting its new paint job in the Sydney sun thanks to 60,000 litres of fresh paint, this one task alone demonstrates that the scale of the whole project cannot be understated.
As CASG’s Head Maritime Systems Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm previously stated, “A naval maintenance operation of this scale has never before been undertaken in this country’s history.”
All planned activities had to be completed within the 16-week docking period so HMAS Canberra could return to service, supporting the Royal Australian Navy’s operational commitments.
The most important and challenging task was the installation of the two new 120 tonne propulsion pods. The newly designed propeller blades also required an unprecedented level of design, logistics, engineering and fabrication simply to support the pods during installation. Locally designed and constructed A-frames and auxiliary cradles, made from Australian steel, supported the weight of the propellers and pods during installation.
The new four blade propellers are a real Australian success story. The design, led locally by TaRP and DST, provided a significant improvement in the ship’s performance and future reliability.
NSM’s General Manager, Joe Smith said successful completion of this activity on its own was a significant achievement, but it was only one task of many.
“The ship’s capability upgrade involved more than 50 Australian companies completing 746 tasks across more than 50 different systems. There were also more than 300 people working a total of 190,000 hours, all of course completed with the backdrop of COVID-19.”
Smith also said the pandemic caused many challenges, but helped drive collaboration and innovation.
“This program would not have been possible without the determination, commitment and dedication of our NSM team as well as our Enterprise Partners, the 50+ Australian SME’s and Defence partners, particularly ACS SPO, Fleet Support Unit and of course the officers and ship’s company of HMAS Canberra.
“Planning and delivery was greatly complicated by COVID-19 with many operational and logistical challenges, including maintaining a safe working environment and coping with unreliable international supply chains. This award is a testament to the Enterprise and its truly collaborative approach, as well as the resilient sovereign capability we have created as an industry to support our naval fleet,” says Smith.