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LHD Enterprise rises to the challenge

Naval Ship Management (NSM) is delivering maximum capability to the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Canberra completes her first deep-level maintenance since deployment in 2016.

The first of class upgrade for HMAS Canberra was one of the most complex docking of a warship ever undertaken in Australia. The docking enabled important capability upgrades for one of the RAN’s two flagships along with other critical maintenance activities.

The most important upgrade was the installation of two 120 tonne propulsion pods, with a combined worth of $32.5m. The level of engineering and supply support to install these pods was unprecedented within Australia’s sovereign sustainment industry.

To aid the installation of these massive pods and other maintenance activities a large number of support structures needed to be designed and constructed locally, including A-frames and double beams to support the weight of the propellers and pods during installation, as well as auxiliary cradles designed to support the bulkier propellers and constructed with Australian steel.

The docking required completion of 746 tasks across more than 50 systems, including:

  • A complete colour change for the ship using over 60,000 litres of paint
  • DSTO supported anti-fouling trials
  • Bow thruster upgrades
  • Gas turbine uptake repairs and technical improvements
  • Stern ramp 60 monthly activities successfully completed

All planned activities had to be completed within the 16-week period for the docking so HMAS Canberra could return to service supporting RAN’s operational commitments. This was further complicated by COVID-19, causing many operational and logistical challenges including maintaining a safe working environment and coping with international supply chains. One such instance was the requirement of international engineering support from Germany where on-site assistance was not possible, so our local team utilised HoloLens goggle technology to gain real-time contact with the engineers and complete the maintenance.

Managing Director, Joe Smith says NSM continues to prove its value:

“Since signing as Asset Class Prime Contractor in 2018, NSM has continued to show its commitment to supporting this critical capability for Navy. The recent docking of HMAS Canberra for its five-year deep level maintenance is the latest milestone in providing the highest quality sustainment, ensuring the men and women on board have the best tools available to protect our nation.”

Sustainment of the LHDs is the responsibility of the LHD Enterprise – a collaboration between NSM as the Asset Class Prime Contractor, Navantia Australia, L3Harris, Saab Australia and the ACS Systems Program Office. Success required collaboration between LHD Enterprise partners and 50+ Australian companies.

With its new paint job glistening in the Sydney sun, HMAS Canberra undocked on 19 February to continue supporting the Royal Australian Navy’s operational tasks and relief efforts.

Naval Ship Management (NSM) Australia was formed in 2010 as a Joint Venture between Babcock and UGL. In 2022, Babcock acquired the remaining shareholding in NSM. NSM is now fully owned and trades under Babcock.

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