HMAS Adelaide (LHD 02) has been playing a pivotal role in the Navy's contribution to Operation Bushfire Assist alongside HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore demonstrating the capability offered by the vessel and its sister, HMAS Canberra.
The ship is now positioned in Twofold Bay near Eden and has been conducting liaison meetings with local authorities, police and fire crews. Medical staff have provided some initial first aid support to local communities and the ship has been preparing for all contingencies.
The light vehicle deck on Adelaide has been transformed into an emergency accommodation area for any potential evacuees.
Staff have prepared bedding, refreshments and care facilities to cater for any arrivals. Even the small things like phone charger points and pet support have been considered and made ready.
Sub Lieutenant Cameron Blanch, assistant Maritime Logistics Officer, said the preparations have been a well planned and executed activity.
The Executive Officer of HMAS Adelaide, Commander Jace Hutchison, has been delighted by the enthusiasm and dedication demonstrated by the crew, some of whom reside in the bushfire hit communities.
"I am extremely proud of the way the ship’s company have responded in such a short time frame. We are providing assurance to the Australian community that we have got their back and we are ready to stand by them during this difficult time," CMDR Hutchison said.
HMAS Adelaide, in conjunction with other Defence assets, will continue to provide support in the region as requested by the relevant authorities.
The Canberra Class provides the ADF with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world. The 27,000-tonne ships are able to land a force of over 1,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.
The ships were constructed using the modular approach whereby the ship is divided into modules, which were built and fitted out as discrete units, before being welded together to form the completed ship.
Construction of the hulls to the level of the flight deck, including the majority of fitting out, was undertaken at Navantia's Ferrol shipyard in north-west Spain. The hulls were then transported on a heavy lift ship to the Williamstown shipyard in Victoria for the installation of the island structure.
The well deck is 69.3 metres long and 16.8 metres wide (1,165 square metres) and the LHD will normally carry four LCM-1Es.
An additional four rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIBs) can be carried behind the LCM-1Es, however this will be mission dependant rather than a normal load out. The well dock has been designed to handle water craft of allied nations, including LCUs, amphibious vehicles and LCACs.
The LHD has a stern ramp/door that provides access to the well dock for landing craft and vehicles along with a fixed ramp (steel beach) between the well dock and the heavy vehicle/cargo deck (1,410 square metres).
The main accommodation deck is located above the well dock and heavy vehicle/cargo deck and includes crew accommodation, mess decks, medical spaces, galley facilities, office spaces and recreation rooms.
Accommodation is provided for 1,400 personnel; approximately 400 ship’s company including the watercraft and flight deck crews, and 1,000 embarked force personnel including the PCRF, embarked flight, HQ staff and landing force.
Additionally, two lateral ramp doors are located on the starboard side and provide wharf access to the heavy vehicle/cargo deck for vehicles up to 65 tonnes. Vehicular access between the heavy and light vehicle decks is achieved via a fixed ramp located on the port side.
The RAN operates two of the vessels, with the first LHD, HMAS Canberra, commissioned on 28 November 2014 and the second ship, HMAS Adelaide, commissioned on 4 December 2015.