Australia: BAE Systems Ready for Arrival of First LHD Hull

BAE Systems Ready for Arrival of First LHD Hull

Everything is ready at BAE Systems Williamstown shipyard for the arrival of the first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) hull. BAE Systems Director Maritime, Bill Saltzer said that preparation works were complete and the Australian team are ready to start work on the next phase of the construction, as soon as it arrives at Williamstown in the next few weeks.

Mr Saltzer’s comments followed today’s announcement by the Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, that the heavy lift ship transporting the LHD hull from Spain, had entered Australian waters.

In the last few months, works have proceeded at a rapid pace as we prepare for the arrival of the first hull,” he said. “Construction, outfitting and consolidation of the four sections of the superstructure is continuing in the Williamstown yard and this includes the mast modules fabricated at the BAE Systems yard at Henderson in Western Australia. Preparation works have also included a multi-million dollar upgrade to Nelson Pier where the ship will be docked. Most recently as part of the preparation for the arrival, one of the largest permanently-based cranes in Australia has been assembled on Nelson Pier.

Mr Saltzer said the total mass of the crane and the counterweight is in excess of 800 tonnes. He said the combined mass of the crane, support steelwork and the load during the first lift of the LHD blocks would be in excess of 1500 tonnes. The first section of superstructure to be lifted weighed approximately 300 tonnes and would be lifted to a height of approximately 25 meters. It then needed to be placed in exactly the right position for it to be joined to the deck of the LHD.

As you can image heavy lifts of this magnitude are a very delicate operation and are weather dependent. We will need to wait for exactly the right conditions before we proceed to ensure that the operation is done in a safe and controlled manner.” Mr Saltzer said that several members of the BAE Systems team who have been stationed in Spain, along with some of the shipbuilders from Navantia are already on site to work with the team here so that hull arrival and berthing go smoothly. “This is an exciting time for BAE Systems as the prime contractor for this project. We are about to start the next phase of its construction which will take it through to completion on Australian soil. We are looking forward with anticipation and excitement to seeing this amazing vessel alongside Nelson Pier in Williamstown”.

The hull, which was constructed by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, left Spain in mid-August.

Naval Today Staff,October 10, 2012; Image: BAE Systems