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Reports on amphibious transport ships.

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Media Release

The Hon John Moore, MP

Minister for Defence


Thursday, 3 February 2000


Reports on Amphibious Transport Ships

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today released two reports on the Navy's Amphibious Transport (LPA) project. 


rtly after becoming Minister for Defence, I was made aware of significant increases in cost and completion delays for HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla," Mr Moore said.

"I considered these overruns to be totally unsatisfactory, and in August last year, I directed the incoming Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral David Shackleton, to provide me a full report on the project.

"I also asked the Inspector General of Defence to review the acquisition of the ships and Defence's management of their conversion and modification.

"I have now received these reports and both indicate the process of acquiring and upgrading these vessels fell well short of performance levels expected by the Government," Mr Moore said.

In mid-1994, the previous Australian Government approved the purchase of two ex-United States Navy Newport Class amphibious landing ships. HMAS MANOORA and HMAS KANIMBLA arrived in Australia later that year, and since mid-1996 have been undergoing extensive modifications to upgrade them to Amphibious Transport Ships (known as LPAs).

The initial project cost was to be $120m at December 1998 prices. Present planning indicates that when the project is completed in late 2000, the final cost could exceed $400 million.

In addition to this three-fold increase in cost, there was a delivery delay of 26 months for the first ship, HMAS MANOORA, from the time of contract, and 35 months for KANIMBLA .

"As Defence Minister, I find these delays and cost overruns totally unacceptable, and I am determined to see Defence management practices improve, particularly in Defence Acquisition," Mr Moore said.

"I have instructed the Secretary, Dr Allan Hawke, and the Under Secretary, Mr Mick Roche, to recommend to me improvements in the management of the Department to ensure the experience of the LPA purchase is not repeated in current and future acquisition projects. The entire Department should learn from this unfortunate, costly experience."

"I also have asked Mr Roche to provide me with an urgent status report on the 15 major projects currently being undertaken by Defence."


"Overall, there are important lessons to be learned for Defence from the handling of this project."

They include the need for:

  • properly conducted pre-procurement inspections, particularly of second-hand materiel;
  • implementatio n of thorough risk analysis and appropriate risk abatement measures;
  • full life cycle costing of equipment purchases;
  • clearly defined operational requirements for the equipment before it is purchased;
  • dedicated, competent project teams with full access a nd authority over expenditure of the project's funds; and
  • more active involvement by senior oversight committees

An LPA Delivery Team has been formed to bring this project to a timely conclusion. Operational sea trials with MANOORA have commenced.

When the project is finalised, the MANOORA and KANIMBLA will provide the Australian Defence Force with significantly enhanced amphibious transport capability over planned service lives of 15 years. It is expected that this capability will be delivered by late this year.

"Notwithstanding the difficulties presented from the outset of this project, the Government is committed to ensuring that MANOORA and KANIMBLA contribute to an efficient and effective amphibious capability, as soon as possible," Mr Moore said.

"With four helicopters and two landing craft per ship, MANOORA and KANIMBLA can each transport 450 troops with vehicles and equipment, and lodge and sustain them ashore. Both ships have a hospital and, importantly, can be used for disaster relief or the evacuation of Australian nationals abroad," Mr Moore said. "They would have been great assets in East Timor."

Copies of the report are available on the internet at the Defence website: . An LPA fact sheet is attached and broadcast standard vision is available from Defence Public Affairs.

For more information contact Commodore Tim Cox on 0419 204449.


Amphibious Transports (LPA) - Fact Sheet

HMAS KANIMBLA L51 (ex USS Saginaw)

HMAS MANOORA L52 (ex USS Fairfax County)

Launched in 1970

Commissioned into USN in 1971

Recommissioned into RAN in 1994


8450 tons full load


Length 160 m

Breadth 21 m

Draft 5.3 m


6 ALCO Diesel Engines (16,500 hp)

4 Generators

2 Shafts

Bow Thruster


20 + kts


14000 nm @ 15kts


200 crew (including 20 Army)

Milita ry Lift

450 troops


  • Hanger for 4 Army Blackhawk or 3 Navy SeaKing helicopters
  • 3 helicopter operating spots - 2 spots on the aft deck and 1 forward
  • 2 Army LCM8 Landing Craft
  • 70 tonne crane
  • Medical facility
  • Extensive Command and Control facil ities
  • 250 tonnes aviation fuel


In combination the LPAs will provide the ADF with a capability to embark, deploy, lodge and sustain an Army Battalion Group. Specifically the LPAs will be able to:


  • conduct an amphibious lodgement by a combination of heli copters and watercraft
  • transport a tactically embarked Battalion Group to a range of 6000km and remain on station for 14 days and conduct a Services Protected Evacuation
  • conduct logistics support over the shore for the lodgement and sustainment of land f orces without reliance of local infrastructure
  • conduct at sea training for RAN officers and sailors
  • provide facilities at sea for the command and control needs of the Amphibious Group Commander and Commander of the Landing Force
  • provide a seaborne medic al facility capable of conducting initial wound surgery and post operative intensive care
  • provide fuels and potable water for a force operating ashore
  • provide a disaster relief operating base capable of operating throughout the region


Chris Wordsworth — Media Adviser — 02 6277 7800 0419 982 482 Fax: 02 627 34118 Email:



jy  2000-02-07  10:44