This is the Navy’s newest commissioned Amphibious Ship or Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), which together with its sister ship HMAS Canberra, provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with two of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.
Importantly for whole-of-government capability, the ships’ roles include supporting Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR) missions. Both ships are able to embark, transport, and deploy a joint force (a combination of Army, Navy and Air assets), including their equipment and aviation units. They can also carry freight containers for Australian Aid, or act as a central communications and information sharing hub afloat. Each ship is equipped with a functional level 2 hospital.
Captain (RAN) Paul Mandziy described HMAS Adelaide as like a ‘Swiss army knife’ for Government, because it gives the crew the potential to tailor and adapt load configurations – much like a Meccano kit – to fit whatever crisis Australia and the region need respond to at the time, from natural disasters to dealing with instability or higher order conflict. The adaptability to ‘block and stack’ loads represents a quantum leap in capability for the ADF and this is reportedly the first time that a navy ship will have army and air force personnel permanently attached to its crew.
HMAS Adelaide potentially represents a fundamental shift to joint amphibious action, and provides ‘people power’ to emergency situations. Captain (RAN) Brett Sonter, Commander Australian Amphibious Task Group, said the ship’s capabilities are a ‘game changer’ for whole-of-Australian government response to any and all situations within our region and a ‘whole new ball game’ for the ADF.