July 27, 2008: In May of 2006, “Australia Issues Official Tender for A$ 2.0B Large Amphibious Ships Program” covered Australia’s decision to expand its naval expeditionary capabilities. HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla would be replaced with substantially larger and more capable modern designs, featuring strong air support. Navantia and Tenix offered a 27,000t LHD design that resembled the Strategic Projection Ship (Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica) under construction for the Spanish Navy. The DCNS-Thales Australia team, meanwhile, proposed a variation of the 21,300t Mistral Class that is serving successfully with the French Navy. Navantia’s larger design eventually won, giving the Spanish firm an A$11 billion clean sweep of Australia’s “Air Warfare Destroyer” and LHD programs. These 5 ships will be the core of Australia’s future surface navy. The LHDs will be able to serve as amphibious landing ships, helicopter carriers, floating HQs and medical facilities for humanitarian assistance, and launching pads for UAVs or even short/vertical takeoff fighters.
The Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock are new amphibious assault ships being developed for the Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Government has approved a AU$3 billion project to build two LHDs, which will have air support, amphibious assault, transport and command centre roles. They are planned to replace in turn HMAS Tobruk and one of the RAN's two current Kanimbla class vessels.
The Australian government's requirements include the capacity to transport up to 1,000 troops and 150 vehicles, including the new M1A1 Abrams tank in service with the Australian Army, have six helicopter spots on a full length flight deck for a mix of both transport and battlefield support helicopters, and a fully equipped hospital. On 20 January 2006, it was announced that the two ships would be named Canberra and Adelaide.