sexta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2011

Australia’s Canberra Class LHDs

Australia’s Canberra Class LHDs

Oct 10, 2011 15:42 EDT

“Australia Issues Official Tender for A$ 2.0B Large Amphibious Ships Program”

May 03, 2006 11:46 EDT

In August of 2005 the Australian government approved the initial design & development funds for an A$ 2 billion Large Amphibious Ships project. The goal is to provide the Royal Australian Navy with two new Canberra Class multi-purpose ships that could serve as an amphibious operations nerve center, playing transport, command centre, humanitarian aid and even limited air support roles. These LHD type ships will replace the Navy’s two existing Kanimbla Class LPAs (HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora), significantly upgrading Australia’s force projection capabilities.

Australia’s government has now announced the release of Requests for Tender, as well as additional details regarding the envisioned ships and timelines.

Each ship will have the ability to transport up to 1,000 personnel, have 6 helicopter landing spots, and be able to carry a mix of troop lift (S-70 Blackhawk) and armed reconnaissance (Eurocopter Tiger ARH) helicopters. In comparison, the Kanimbla Class carries 450 personnel and can accomodate only 4 helicopters. The new Canberra Class will also be able to transport up to 150 vehicles, including the new M1A1 Abrams tank and other elements of the “Hardened and Networked Army” such as the Bushmaster IMV and the forthcoming vehicles of Project Overlander. Like the ships they will replace, each ship will also be equipped with medical facilities; their size, however, will allow these facilities to include two operating theatres and a hospital ward.

A Tenix-Navantia team will propose a variation of their Navantia 27,000 tonne LHD design, which is similar to the Strategic Projection Ship (Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica) under development for the Spanish Navy and due to be delivered in December 2008. The Thales ADI-Armaris team, meanwhile, will propose a variation of the Armaris 21,300-tonne Mistral Class being built for the French Navy. Both designs have undergone further development since August 2005, and have been adapted to meet specific Australian legislative and regulatory requirements.

As Australia plans to order the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and may choose to make a handful of the F-35B STOVL versions capable of operating from an LHD Class ship, the issue of a ski jump arises. The Navantia design has a built-in ski-jump for use by the Spanish Navy’s EAV-8B Matador/Harrier IIs, and would immediately be capable of operating F-35B STOVLs. Since France doesn’t operate STOVL aircraft, it has not included a ski jump; lacking the size of the USA’s 42,000t LHD Wasp Class ships or the future 50,000t LHA-Rs, the Mistral Class would have to be modified to allow for similar F-35 options.

The tender documentation is intended to allow bidding companies to:

  • Submit fixed price bids;
  • Bid through life support solutions, and;
  • Provide innovative solutions to improve price and schedule.

Australian Minister of Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson notes that final project approval and ship builder and design selection are expected to take place early in 2007. The two ships, to be named HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, are scheduled to enter service with the Royal Australian Navy from 2012.

Winner: The Navantia-Tenix LHD

The Tenix (BAE)-Navantia team proposed a variation of their Strategic Projection Ship (Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica) under development for the Spanish Navy. The Canberra Class design has an overall length of 230.8m/ 757 feet, with a beam of 32.0m/ 105 feet and a draught of 7.18m / 23.5 feet that allows operation in relatively shallow water. Maximum displacement is 27,831 tonnes.

Maximum speed is 20.5 knots, and the ship’s standard range is 6,100 nautical miles at 15 knots economical cruising speed, using the ship’s all-electric combined diesel and gas (CODAG) propulsion. The system can produce over 34 MW of power from its GE LM2500 gas turbine and 2 MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators, and carries a 1,350 kW Progener-Mitsubishi S16MPTA emergency diesel generator.

The ship’s range can be extended to 7,050 nm if speed is cut to 12 kts, and the ship can supply its complement at sea for a maximum of 50 days before it needs replenishment.

That complement is substantial. Each Canberra Class LHD ship will have the ability to carry 1,221-1,403 personnel (243 crew, 978 troops, up to 36 additional crew and/or 146 troops), with 6 helicopter landing spots and a mix of troop lift (S-70 Blackhawk or NH90 TTH), naval (MH-60R) and armed reconnaissance (Eurocopter Tiger ARH) helicopters carried inside. The “ski jump” on the hardened flight deck can also be used to launch fixed-wing UAVs, and is acknowledged as suitable for short takeoff/ vertical landing (STOVL) fighters like the F-35B should a future government decide that this is necessary. Flight operations can be conducted up to Sea State 5.

The new Canberra Class will also be able to transport up to 150 vehicles, including the new M1A1 Abrams tank and other elements of the “Hardened and Networked Army” such as the Bushmaster IMV and the forthcoming vehicles of Project Overlander. Maximum troop capacity is 1152 fully-equipped soldiers, and its landing craft can operate from the inclined internal well dock in conditions up Sea State 4 thanks to the dock’s central steel fender and porous “beach”.

Those landing craft will be up to 4 of Navantia’s 110t LCM-1Es. While Australia’s US Navy allies use LCAC hovercraft, the LCMs are conventional landing craft with flattened bottoms, and a flat front that drops to become a loading or unloading ramp. Their cargo space can accommodate 1 tank, 2 APCs or Trucks, or 6 Hummer-sized vehicles. They currently serve with the Spanish Navy, and Navantia’s BPE/Canberra Class ships were designed to accommodate them. Australia is ordering a total of 12.

By comparison, the retired Kanimbla Class LPAs carried 450 troops, and could accommodate just 4 helicopters. HMAS Tobruk, which will retire when HMAS Canberra enters service, is even smaller than that.

The new LHDs also offer larger medical facilities: 2 operating theaters and a hospital ward with facilities for intensive care and dependent care wards, dental surgery, plus a laboratory, X-Ray, and pharmacy.

Typhoon 25mm RWS

Despite their size, capacity, and importance to the RAN, Australia’s Canberra Class ships will have minimal defensive armament and systems.

Tenix (now part of BAE Systems) managed the RAN’s ANZAC Class frigate program, and their Canberra Class LHDs will share the same Saab 9LV combat system. . The Canberra Class will also share the ANZAC Class’ VAMPIR NG infrared track and scan sensors, which allow short range detection of fast attack boats, UAVs, and incoming missiles under all weather conditions.

On the other hand, the ships’ Sea Giraffe AMB radars will be slated for aviation control, not missile or naval targeting. This situation could be improved in future by adding basic defensive systems, and further improvements are possible by mounting phased array CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT radars. Australia’s ANZAC frigates are already receiving these advanced radars as part of their anti-air upgrades, and integrating them with the same common combat system

Should threats appear on screen, however, the ships’ options will be severely limited: only 6 12.7mm machine guns around the ship, and 4 RAFAEL Typhoon 20-25mm remote weapons systems at the corners. Those weapons can fend off asymmetric threats like small boats, but can’t do much more. Nixie torpedo decoys will be carried, and space is being reserved for Nulka missile decoys, but that’s it.

The lack of anti-air missiles, or even last-ditch CIWS defensive systems, is an unusual decision for such a large and important ship. France’s 21,300t Mistral Class LHDs, for instance, carry a pair of Simbad launchers for short-range Mistral surface-air missiles, in addition to 30mm cannons for asymmetric warfare defense. South Korea’s 18,900t Dokdo Class LHDs sport a pair of 30mm Golakeeper CIWS cannons, and RIM-116 RAM short-range missiles. Italy’s 27,000t Cavour Class will carry advanced medium-range Aster 15 missiles in a vertical launcher and Oto Melara 76mm cannons for defense, while the much larger 45,000t US LHD-1 Wasp Class pack a mix of Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, RAM missiles, and Phalanx CIWS cannons for 3-layered anti-air coverage.

Australia’s Department of Defence told DID that the Canberra’s concept of operations involved relying on protection from Hobart Class anti-air frigates and upgraded ANZAC Class ships, along with aerial coverage from E-737 Wedgetail AWACS etc. Other assets will include P-8A Poseidon sea/land surveillance aircraft, and possibly long range UAVs, to ensure overwatch and protection.

Program & Construction Plans

The Canberra Class were initially expected to replace Australia’s existing ships in 2012 (HMAS Canberra) and 2014 (HMAS Adelaide). Those dates have since slipped to 2014 and 2016, but so far, the program has avoided Australia’s infamous “Projects of Concern” list.

“Joint Project 2048” did receive a nasty price hike very early in the process, however, from A$ 2 billion to about A$ 3 billion. Oddly enough, that’s an example of good news.

The main thrust of Australia’s Kinnaird Report post-mortem, undertaken after the Collins Class submarine program’s massive cost overruns, was the need to do more up-front work, in order to improve cost and delivery estimates on defense projects. As a result, approximately A$ 23 million was spent over 3 years on Canberra Class design studies.

The outcome was a mixed blessing. By the time 1st Pass Approval came, the Government was told at 1st Pass Approval that the Project was likely to cost at least A$ 600 – $900 million more than the allocated budget over the life of the program. Inflation was part of the story. When the Australian government moved to calculate the final program cost, they looked at the entire program from 2007-2015, when HMAS Adelaide is scheduled for delivery. Within that period, forecasts were made regarding inflation and materials costs in several locales: Spanish labor rates indices and costs, the 20% of the project in US dollars for L-3’s components, and Australian indices for the 23% “Australianization” work. Putting them together yielded a sort of “basket” of inflationary indices for the project as a whole. On top of that, Australian planners also added project management costs, project contingency funds for required infrastructure improvements to ports and berthings, etc.

The result was something of a price shock, as the program cost rose to A$ 3 billion, instead of the original budget figure of $2 billion. A 50% total cost increase is never palatable news. On the other hand, there is much to be said for this approach. Knowing the full price in budgeted dollars before a contract is awarded, and planning accordingly, certainly beats the intense project gyrations and political fallout that would follow if the government had “discovered” the issues after construction was underway, amidst political controversy over the cost “increases.”

So far, the revised estimate has held up well.

Project 2048: Management

Overall management of the contractors will go through lead contractor Tenix (now BAE), who is partnered with Navantia for the core ship, Saab Systems for the combat system, and American firm L-3 for communications, internal LAN, etc. All of these decisions were made in conjunction with the Australian DoD, who were presented with options at each stage and made their decisions.

The ships’ hull from keel to flight deck will be built in Navantia’s modern naval shipyard in Ferrol, Spain. DID’s Spanish correspondent informs us via anonymous sources that Spain’s BPE (LHD) project has experienced some schedule issues. The were rumored to stem from not having enough cranes in the shipyard to build Norway’s Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS frigates, Spain’s new F-105 Alvaro de Bazan Class AEGIS frigate, and Spain’s BPE (LHD) all at the same time. Word is that the delay is now solved, but it will be interesting to see whether adding 5 Australian ships to the backlog will create future issues.

Once the ships’ hulls are built, they will be brought to BAE Australia’s Williamstown shipyard in Melbourne by heavy lift ship, where the locally built superstructure (the part that rises above the flight deck) will be joined to the hull. This effort has an estimated value of up to A$ 500 million.

The majority of combat system design and integration work will take place in Adelaide, at a cost of up to A$ 100 million. There will also be further work contracted to other states, and total Australian content is expected to be about 23%, or A$ 700 million.

After construction is done, Australian industry will also be providing full in-service support for the life of the ships. This will create a steady and reliable source of demand on Australian industry. Over the ships’ expected lifetimes of 30 years or more, the figures involved will probably amount to several times the value of the construction program.

A Surprise Companion

Long before the new Canberra Class could arrive, however, HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla had to be retired early due to mechanical issues. With HMAS Tobruk laid up for heavy refits, Australia was left without a serving amphibious ship when Cyclone Yasi hit, in February 2011.

Bad timing, that. Thereafter, however, good timing came to the Royal Australian Navy’s rescue. By August 2011, Australia was busy preparing the Bay Class LPD “HMAS Choules” for service, after drastic British budget cuts forced the Royal Navy to sell RFA Largs Bay very early in its planned service life. HMAS Choules will be joined by a refurbished HMAS Tobruk, until HMAS Canberra arrives and Tobruk is retired. Beyond that, Australia’s emergency LPD purchase will offer them an unexpected 3rd amphibious ship for long-term service in the fleet.

Contracts and Key Events

Sept 27/11: The Australian government gives 2nd pass approval to Joint Project 2048, Phase 3, which will buy 12 of Navantia’s 110t LCM-1E landing craft to equip the Canberra Class. Under this approval, the total cost is capped between A$300 – $500 million; the exact price will be resolved as a contract is negotiated.

Australian forces currently rely on a heavily modified version of the American LCM-8 for this role, which may continue service aboard HMAS Choules (formerly RFA Largs Bay).

Delivery of the first batch of 4 LCM-1Es will be coordinated with the delivery of HMAS Canberra, expected in 2014. Maintenance and support for the LCMs will be provided by Australian industry. Australia DoD. See also May 8/09 entry.

Feb 18/11: LHD01 Canberra’s hull is launched at Navantia’s Ferrol shipyard, in northern Spain. Canberra is still set to arrive in Victoria in 2012, where its superstructure will be completed and it will be fitted out, before a planned acceptance into service in 2014. Australian DoD | Australia DoD photos.

Feb 2/10: Navantia of Spain cuts the first steel for LHD 02 at its shipyard in Ferrol, Spain, 7 weeks ahead of schedule. Keel laying of LHD 01 Canberra took place place exactly one year to the day from first steel being cut, and the next milestone will be the launch of LHD 01 in Spain in March 2011. LHD 01 is expected to arrive at Williamstown dockyard in 2012, with LHD 02 arriving in 2014. Australia DoD.

Dec 3/09: EADS Defence Electronics announces a contract from BAE Systems to deliver a pair of MSSR 2000 I IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems for installation aboard The Canberra Class. Integration into the Combat Management System will be performed by Saab Group, who makes the 9LV combat system.

IFF systems are so-called secondary surveillance radars that collect precise data on the origin, course, speed etc. of individual aircraft by automatically sending interrogation signals which are answered by encrypted transponders on-board the incoming aircraft. The goal is reliable identification of incoming aircraft, in order to avoid targeting one’s own forces or allies. The MSSR 2000 I is operated by the naval forces of Germany, France, Norway and Finland; and as a land-based system in countries like Bulgaria and Slovakia. The system has received civil certification, and EADS DE also makes related identification systems used for civil air traffic control in Portugal and the Philippines.

July 20/09: BAE Systems Australia announces successful completion of the Canberra’s class’ Whole of Ship Preliminary Design Review phase. That review examined major subsystems including communications, navigation, combat systems, support systems and platform systems. Success allows the ship to proceed to the detailed design phase, which will create the production blueprints.

May 8/09: Australia’s Labor Party government announces first pass approval of Navantia’s LCM-1E landing craft under Joint Project 2048, Phase 3, to equip its Canberra Class LHDs. Australia’s DoD will now begin negotiations with Navantia, which will include the possibility of building the Landing Craft, Mechanized in Australia. A final decision on the LCM-1E was to be made by Government in 2010, but 2nd pass approval actually took until late September 2011.

March 6/09: India’s Business Times reports that an overzealous US State Department bureaucrat appears to have created a 3-4 month delay in the Project 17 program, after ordering GE to stop work on the LM2500 turbines it was supplying for India’s Krivak III Class frigates. The given reason? A 3-4 month internal State Department review of American relationships with other countries. The article reports that “GE has been told to stop work even with close US allies like the UK and Australia.” Whose Canberra Class also uses the LM2500.

Read “US State Dept. Throws A Wrench Into Exports, Allied Shipbuilding” for more updates, and a look at the timelines and implications.

Oct 28/08: SAFRAN Group’s Sagem Défense Securité Australasia announces a contract from BAE Systems Australia to supply its VAMPIR NG (Veille Air-Mer Panoramique Infrarouge Nouvelle Génération/ New Generation Infrared Panoramic Air-Sea Surveillance) infrared surveillance systems for the Canberra Class. The VAMPIR was selected following a general tender, but it entered with an advantage thanks to its 2005 selection as part of Australia’s ANZAC Class frigate upgrades.

VAMPIR NG offers a high-resolution panoramic image, that provides short range surveillance and warning of incoming UAVs, fast boats, or even missiles, without creating traceable radar emissions. It calls on state-of-the-art image processing technology, and deploys 3rd-generation gyrostabilized infrared sensors for maximum efficiency. VAMPIR NG is integrated with the ships’ Saab 9LV combat system, and an also be used as a helicopter landing aid, and to help control the movements of landing craft. Sagem DS release | VAMPIR NG data sheet [PDF].

Aug 25/08: Dockwise Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda announces that its subsidiary Dockwise Shipping has entered into contracts with the Spanish naval shipyard Navantia, to transport 2 Canberra-class amphibious helicopter carriers (LHD). The combined value of this contract, plus a contract to bring 2 Russian nuclear powered submarines from Kamchatka to the Russian naval shipyard Zvezda to be dismantled, is around $40 million.

The hull and outfitting of the Canberra Class vessels will largely be completed by the Spanish yard at Ferrol, but final construction, outfitting and commissioning will be performed by Australian contractors. The ships will be transported from Ferrol to Melbourne on the deck of the semi submersible (float-on, float-off, or FLO-FLO) Blue Marlin transport vessel in 2012, and again in 2014.

Aug 25/08: Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit announces an USD$8.4 million contract from Tenix Pty Limited of Melbourne, Australia (now part of BAE Australia), to supply integrated navigation systems for the Canberra Class. The contract also includes engineering and technical support for configuration, installation, commissioning, a land-based test site, and sea trials.

The navigation systems will include 2 Sperry Marine MK39 Mod 3A ring laser gyro navigator (RLGN) inertial navigation systems. They will be integrated with the ships’ radars, electronic charting system, autopilot, steering control, speed and depth sensors, GPS and DGPS positioning systems, automatic identification systems, voyage data recorder and other systems and sensors, using Sperry Marine’s NavDDS data distribution network.

Sperry Marine is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA, and has major engineering and support offices in New Malden, United Kingdom and Hamburg, Germany. NGC release.

July 14/08: GE Marine announces the contract from Navantia for 2 LM2500 aeroderivative gas turbines. Each Canberra Class LHD will rely on an LM2500 gas turbine, placed in a CODAG (COmbined Diesel Electric And Gas) configuration with diesel engines. GE will manufacture the LM2500 gas turbines at its Evendale, OH facility, and will deliver the gas turbine-generator sets in August 2009 and November 2010.

The LM2500 powers every major surface combatant class in the Royal Australian Navy: 12 have powered Australia’s FFG-7 Adelaide-class frigates, another 11 turbines and spares were delivered for the RAN’s ANZAC-class frigates, and the LM2500 family will be part of the propulsion system for Australia’s forthcoming Hobart Class air warfare frigates.

Descrição: BAE logo

June 27/08: Tenix = BAE. BAE Systems completes its acquisition of Tenix Defence. BAE release.

Jan 31/08: BAE Systems formally buys Tenix Defence, and proposes to merge it into BAE Systems Australia. The GBP 347 million/ A$ 775 million purchase would include Tenix Defence Marine, Navantia’s partner for the Canberra Class. The Australian | Bloomberg | Reuters | UK’s Times UPI

Jan 18/08: Tenix takeover. BAE Systems Australia offers A$ 775 million in cash to the Tenix Corporation, in a takeover bid for Tenix Defence. The deal is accepted. Tenx Defence had proforma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of A$56 million on sales of A$699 million in the year to the end of June 2007.

Other rumored bidders included L-3 Communications, The Carlyle Group, and Australian conglomerate Leighton Holdings, Ltd. BAE Page | Reuters | The

Nov 23/07: Saab Systems signs an A$105 million (USD $87 million) contract with Tenix Marine to design, develop, and integrate their 9LV combat management system and Sea Giraffe AMB radar into the Canberra Class. According to Saab’s release, special features of the system will include helicopter control, watercraft control, and close in self defense against military and asymmetric threats. The Sea Giraffe’s known features include counter-battery fire tracking. Saab release.

Oct 11/07: DID explains the differences between Australian figures, and Navantia’s contract figures, following a briefing with Australia’s DoD. The short answer: both figures are correct. Navantia’s figures are current-dollar costs for construction contracts, but that contract includes economic price adjustment clauses for inflation et. al. Australian government figures attempt to take inflation over the project’s lifetime into account, then add project management and contingent costs to arrive at a figure for actual dollars spent over the project’s lifetime. See “Canberra Contract Costs Clarified.”

These clarifications regarding cost and armament have been incorporated into the text above.

Oct 9/07: It’s official. Australian Prime Minister John Howard announces the signing of a contract with Tenix, worth about A$ 3.1 billion ($2.787 billion) over 8 years [PM release | Event photo gallery | Tenix release | Navantia English release | Navantia Spanish release]. HMAS Canberra will be delivered in 2013, and HMAS Adelaide in 2015. Prime Minister Howard said :

“These 27,000-tonne ships will greatly enhance Australia’s ability to deploy forces when necessary in our region or beyond, and to provide assistance in time of natural disaster. Using their integrated helicopters and watercraft, each vessel will be able to land approximately 1,000 personnel, along with their vehicles, the new Abrams tanks, artillery and supplies. They will also be equipped with medical facilities, including two operating theatres and a hospital ward, and will be capable across the full spectrum of maritime operations, including aid to the civil community in times of natural disaster at home or abroad.”

N.B. Navantia’s release sets the contract value at a divergent EUR 1.412 billion (A$ 2.22 billion), of which EUR 915 million (A$ 1.44 billion)would go to Navantia for production estimated at 9.35 million work-hours, reflecting the current-dollar costs of the construction contract without including inflation over 8 years, project management costs, and contingent costs like improving port infrastructure etc. See Oct 11/07 entry for more.

June 20/07: Winner! The Australian DoD announces that subject to successful contract negotiations, the preferred tenderer is Tenix, with intended delivery of the ships between 2012 – 2014. The cost, meanwhile, has grown by 50% to A$ 3 billion. Navantia’s design was larger and more capable, but unlike the French Mistral Class it did not have a previous build history. In addition to capability advantages, however, Navantia-Tenix has an additional ace card to play that DCNS-Thales Australia did not:

“So that we could ensure the best possible outcomes for Australian industry and the ADF, the Government decided to consider the Amphibious Ship and Air Warfare Destroyer proposals in concert. Our decisions today mean that for decades into the future Navy’s ships will be backed by world-class industry support from Australia’s naval engineering and electronics industries. They also mean that hundreds of smaller and medium enterprises can now look to the future with confidence.”

See full DoD release.

Additional Readings

  • Navantia-Tenix – LHD Program bid site. Tenix is now BAE Systems Australia, and the site has been taken down.
  • The Australian (Nov 4/08) – All Hands on Deck. ”...these are testing times for the navy. There are not enough sailors to man its fleet, many of its ships and helicopters are ill-equipped for war, half of its submarine fleet lives in dry dock and a new generation of young Australians are baulking at a life on the high seas.”
  • StrategyPage (June 27/07) – The Three Amphibs. Compares the Juan Carlos I, Mistral, ad Wasp LHD classes.
  • DID – MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition. They aren’t slated for the Canberas, but could certainly fly them in a revival of the anti-submarine escort carrier role. The question would be datalinks and other interoperability issues, in order to go beyond mere “lily pad” status.
  • Defense News (May 28/07) – France Shows Off Amphib. Explains how France worked to keep the cost of the Mistral Class the same as its smaller predecessors, the 12,400 ton Foudre and Siroco. France spent about EUR 650 million ($875 million) for the Mistral and Tonnerre, thanks to a modular construction approach that used several shipyards and contractors to build different ship sections: DCN (prime contractor, aft part of the ships, integrated the combat system and completed the vessels in Brest; subcontracted more than half of the aft section to Stocznia Remontowa in Gdansk, Poland); Alstom Marine-Chantiers de l’Atlantique (fore sections including all living and most working spaces, propulsion pods); and Thales (design, radar surveillance system, communications system).