03 November 2010

$17 Million for Refit 2 Amphibian Warships

03 November 2010

HMAS Manoora a 8.500 ton Landing Platform Amphibious (photo : westernadvance)

Rusting warships HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora will sail again after refit: navy

TWO ageing navy warships undergoing an unscheduled $17 million refit in Sydney will be put to sea again, the navy says.

However both will be retired by the time the Royal Australian Navy gets two new helicopter carriers, a navy spokesman said today.

HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora, two rusting 8500 tonne warships bought at knockdown prices from the US navy in early 1990s, were pulled out of service last month for emergency repairs.

An emailed reply from Defence to queries from The Australian about the repairs mistakenly included an internal department memo describing the refit as a “sensitive issue”.

Both 40-year-old warships are now anchored at Sydney's Garden Island dockyard undergoing an unscheduled $17 million refit to fix problems officially described as ranging from “minor to major”.

Both vessels will be seaworthy and ready for operations “early next year,” said a navy spokesman, denying the ships would never put to sea again.

Both ships are suffering extensive corrosion, a problem which first surfaced in the mid-90s during their conversion to amphibious transports - additional work which added tens of millions of dollars to the refit cost.

Corrosion has again been cited as one of the latest maintenance concerns.

HMAS Kanimbla, both HMAS and HMAS Manoora are formerly USNavy's Newport class Landing Ship Tank (photo : Militaryphotos)

“They will go back to sea. Yes, they are old and need some fixing - but in an emergency they could go to sea now.

“They are in a state that needs repair but we (navy) work them hard,” the spokesman said.

Apart from rust removal, the extensive refit includes work on the ship's engines, propulsion and fuel systems, power plant, air conditioning, desalinator and deck crane.

It's understood the warships will be paid off when two new 27,000 tonne Canberra class amphibious assault ships are commissioned in 2014/15.

Appearing before a Senate estimates committee a fortnight ago, navy chief Vice Admiral Russ Crane confirmed one of the Kanimbla class ships would be paid off in 2012 and its sister ship in 2014.

He said a “masthead to keel” inspection was underway by navy surveyors to assess any further structural issues.

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