Australian LHD deploys M1A1 MBT for first time

Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra has completed trials to transport an M1A1 main battle tank and large vehicle loads ashore using an LHD landing craft.

The tests, carried out with the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion, took place after the landing craft recently underwent an engine room modification which increased the carrying capacity from 38,000kg to greater than 60 tons, allowing the landing craft to carry the army’s heavy tracked vehicles.

Significant modelling and analysis provided the assurance needed to conduct live testing.

Work to enable the sea trial included the design and installation of an additional watertight bulkhead in the engine room, as well as scale modelling and testing of the landing craft in various sea states at the Marine Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN). This provided the quantitative evidence and confidence needed to progress to the sea phase trials, which were led by the Royal Australian Navy Test and Evaluation Authority.

Photo: Royal Australian Navy


The trial focused on landing and recovering both the M1A1 MBT and the M88A2 recovery vehicle from the landing craft to a beach.

The Army’s 45M heavy recovery vehicle (42 tonne) and the HX77 heavy utility truck (33.5 tonne) were also tested.

Over two days, load trials were completed using all the vehicles, operating to and from the beach in ocean conditions up to sea state three.

Captain Terry Morrison, Canberra’s commanding officer, praised the expertise and collaborative approach adopted by the landing craft crews, dock teams and heavy vehicle operators to achieve this significant milestone.

“I’m very proud of the skills on display from the Leading Seaman landing craft coxswains and their crews, who are adept in maneuvering these large loads safely to the beach,” Captain Morrison said.

Photo: Royal Australian Navy photo of a light landing craft transporting an Australian Army M1A1 Abrams main battle tank as part of load trials onboard HMAS Canberra.