Computer generated image - Landing Helicopter Dock

Graeme Ormiston, the project’s General Manager, said today that work in Spain was well advanced with main subcontractor Navantia having started construction on 79 of the 105 blocks that will make up the hull platform (up to the flight deck) of each of the 27,000 tonne LHDs.

Mr Ormiston said that production at Navantia’s Ferrol and Fene shipyards began on schedule in September 2008, with the keel laying ceremony for LHD 01 taking place at Ferrol exactly a year later as planned

“The build strategy requires that each of the 105 blocks, each weighing more than 100 tonnes, have all steelwork completed, painted and outfit maximised before transfer to the Ferrol slipway.

“The build program is progressing well with 13 blocks erected on the slipway so far and a further 66 blocks in various stages of construction.

“Two major shipbuilding milestones have been achieved on time in the last two months with levels of completeness in excess of the required 85 per cent,” Mr Ormiston said.

Ship launch for LHD 01 is scheduled for March 2011 with arrival at Williamstown in 2012.

Mr Ormiston said that Australian manufacturing work to build the superstructures and mast blocks, and then integrate these with the warships, was scheduled to commence at the company’s Williamstown shipyard in Victoria in the second half of 2010.

“Work has already begun on the refurbishment and expansion of key facilities and equipment at Williamstown that will be needed to accommodate these huge ships, including provision for a ground based slipway crane needed to lift blocks of up to 250 tonnes onto the hulls.”

Mr Ormiston said the critical Whole of Ship Design Review phase of the project had also been finalised in December 2009.

“The Design Review program carried out last year , with nine preliminary and detailed reviews taking in place in 12 months culminated in the Whole of Ship DDR, marking another significant milestone towards completion of this historic project,” he said.

BAE Systems is the prime and Mission System Integrator for the LHDs under Joint Project 2048 Phase 4A/4B. Sub-contractors include:

• Navantia - ship designer;
• SAAB - Combat System, Combat Management System and the Saab Microwave AMB
Radar design;
• L3 Communications - design and supply of the communications systems.
• Northrop Grumman Overseas Service Corporation (Sperry Marine) – Combat Navigation System;
• Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd – Gun and Electro-Optical Sight (EOS) system;
• Sagem Défense Sécurité (Sagem) – Infrared Search and Track (IRST) System, and
• Argon ST Inc – Torpedo Decoy System.

The ships are due to be be taken through acceptance into service by the Royal Australian Navy from January 2014 (LHD 01) and August 2015 (LHD 02).