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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Australia’s largest warship runs into more mechanical problems after Tonga deployment

Australia’s largest warship is being hampered by new mechanical problems, placing limits on its speed, just months after suffering a complete power failure during a humanitarian mission to Tonga.

The ABC can reveal engineers are working to repair one of the two propulsion pods that power HMAS Adelaide, which is currently moored at Sydney’s Garden Island naval base.

According to Defense the “issue” was identified during a “scheduled maintenance period” after the 27,500-tonne vessel returned from the Pacific in March.

A source on board the ship, who spoke to the ABC on condition of anonymity, claimed the Navy had been aware of the problem for the past two months.

“It has been broken since the ship got back to Australia in March, it now has a 12 knots maximum speed, which is not great for the emergency response vessel,” the person said.

A Closeup Of Hmas Adelaide Warship In The Ocean On A Sunny Day, With Clouds In The Sky Above It
Engineers have been aboard the HMAS Adelaide to repair one of its propulsion pods.,Defence: POIS Christopher Szumlanski,

Defense is refusing to confirm what limitations HMAS Adelaide is currently operating under, but a spokesperson has told the ABC the ship “remains safe and capable to conduct her planned program”.

Next week HMAS Adelaide is expected to depart Sydney for Townsville for trials and exercises, before a scheduled voyage to Singapore at the end of the year.

Earlier this year the ABC revealed several electrical power failures had crippled the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) as it worked to deliver relief to Tonga following the January 14 volcanic eruption and tsunami.

A Senate estimates hearing in February was told that volcanic debris around Tonga was considered the likely cause of the initial outage, although formal investigations were still ongoing.

HMAS Adelaide was commissioned in 2015 and is one of two Spanish built ‘Landing Helicopter Docks’ operated by the Royal Australian Navy, along with HMAS Canberra, which entered service a year earlier.

The vessels are powered by two 11-megawatt Siemens azimuth propulsion system thrusters with dual propellers mounted on 360-degree steerable pods driven by onboard electric motors.

Industry figures have for years privately questioned the suitability of the azimuth propulsion systems for a large amphibious assault ship, saying the technology was instead designed for cruise liners.

In 2017 the ABC revealed both LHDs were out of service as engineers worked to resolve problems with their propulsion pods, prompting Labor to warn Australia’s two major amphibious ships were unavailable for service during Queensland’s cyclone emergency.

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