French Armaris group's LHD (top picture) is one of two designs being considered for Australian Navy's Amphibious ships project. The other is the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia's LHD (lower picture)
August 11, 2005
Australia moves ahead on Amphibious Ships
The Australian Government has approved the first stage of its A$2 billion (US$1.53billion) Amphibious Ships project.
Defense Minister Senator Robert Hill said the project will provide the Australian Navy with two new amphibious ships to be used on operations such as combat operations, regional disaster relief, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and peace monitoring, and assistance to policing or military operations.
Australian shipbuilders will be invited to tender for either or both of two designs:
"Each ship will preferably have the ability to transport up to 1,000 personnel, have six helicopter landing spots and provision for a mix of troop lift and armed reconnaissance helicopters. It will also be able to transport up to 150 vehicles including the new M1A1 Abrams tanks and armored vehicles," Senator Hill said.
"Each ship will also be equipped with medical facilities, including two operating theaters and a hospital ward," he added.
A Request for Tender will be released to the Australian shipbuilding industry in the second quarter of 2006.
Senator Hill says the shipbuilder will be determined following a thorough financial and technical comparison was made between Australian bids and overseas build options.
"The Government's preference is to see the ships built in Australia, however Australian industry will need to demonstrate it can deliver the project at a competitive price," Senator Hill said.
The Government has committed A$29.8 million (US$ 22.8 million) towards the Design Development Phase of the project.
This will enable NAVANTIA and ARMARIS to now work on defining the requirements for the ships incorporating necessary Australian environmental, safety and technical requirements.
The tender documentation will allow bidders to:
"A lot of work has been done on assessing the two ships and also the capability of shipbuilders," said Senator Hill."Both ships are very capable and will be a quantum leap over our current capability."
"The Spanish ship would have a greater carrying capacity but construction of the first Spanish ship has only just started," he said. "In comparison, the French ship has slightly less carrying capacity but has been constructed and is undertaking its final tests with the French Navy."
For an Australian build, the contract would be awarded in early 2007 with the in-service date for the first ship being 2012.