HMAS Canberra embarks four USMC AAVs

HMAS Canberra has successfully embarked four United States Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) off the coast of Hawaii marking another milestone in the ship’s interoperability with United States counterparts.

The under way recovery took place as part of interoperability trials with amphibious transport dock USS San Diego during the Sea Phase of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.

Assistant Dock Officer and Boat Group Commander, Lieutenant Sandy Jardine, said the evolution was an important milestone.

“We have proven that HMAS Canberra has the capability to receive and launch the Amphibious Assault Vehicle,” he said.

“It allows our troops to go in to the beach in an armoured vehicle which means that they’re fully protected.”

Unlike routine operations in USS San Diego, the AAVs were required to “swim” the length of HMAS Canberra’s deeper well dock.

The well dock is also divided at the half way mark with an “island” to accommodate the ship’s four organic LHD Landing Craft.

The evolution, called an ‘administrative swim’, meant the buoyant vehicles were required to navigate Canberra’s 7.6 metre wide lanes without touching the sides.

“An admin swim is very dependent on the state of the dock,” Lieutenant Jardine said.

“An AAV can swim out into a Sea State Four”.

“But we communicate with the bridge, the warfare officers and the vehicles to manoeuvre the ship and try to lesson that effect.”

AAV crewman, Lance Corporal Ryley Sweet said it was exciting to drive into the well dock of HMAS Canberra for the first time.

“San Diego doesn’t have a split well dock,” Lance Corporal Ryley said.

It’s all even, so we go in, our tracks hit the deck, and we start to drive like we’re already on land.

“But when we enter Canberra we’re still in deep water, so we’re using our marine propulsion system instead of tracks.

“I feel as if I did pretty well, since no one has done it before.”

AAV Platoon Sergeant and Amphibious Advisor USMC Gunnery Sergeant Chad Solomon said the exercise was a big win.

“It means that in the future we’ll be able to use a combined Australian/American landing force and share a stronger relationship between the two navies going forward.”