Big ships berth at new Darwin wharf

Department of Defence

One of Navy’s largest ships has docked at HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin, for the first time, following the completion of the new Kuru Wharf.

The 230m-long landing helicopter dock (LHD), HMAS Adelaide, recently berthed at the new facility, which is part of a wider redevelopment of Navy’s Fleet Base North, Coonawarra.

Commanding Officer Coonawarra Captain David Shirvington said the first visit by an LHD was an important milestone in the development of the strategic northern maritime base.

“Having the ability to berth and sustain the RAN’s largest vessel class at 28,000 tonnes alongside a naval wharf in the north of Australia enhances our ability to support and achieve impactful projection of naval effects into Australia’s primary area of military interest,” Captain Shirvington said.

“In this respect the visit was an important stress test of the capability and has provided many lessons that can be applied to sustain further operations.”

The 322m-long wharf includes two approach dolphins and has already received a vote of confidence from Adelaide’s Executive Officer Commander Nicholas Paterson.

“The new Kuru Wharf at HMAS Coonawarra is a capability multiplier for the LHD,” Commander Paterson said.

“The ability to have reliable, secure berthing space in the north is important to ensure the LHD’s ability to operate in these important strategic areas.

“The infrastructure supporting the wharf is also excellent.

“There are excellent staging areas for cargo and stores, the bollard placement means LHDs can securely remain alongside with very little need to adjust lines, and the state-of-the-art gangway system ensures safe, easy access, even with Darwin’s high tide ranges.”

Capable of transporting up to 18 helicopters, the two Canberra-class LHDs are the largest ships ever constructed for Australia’s fleet.

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