The Air Warfare Destroyer program has officially come to an end with the commissioning of HMAS Sydney at sea.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said her commissioning marks a significant milestone in the $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“The commissioning of the final Hobart Class Destroyer not only marks the beginning of a new era for the Navy, but also demonstrates the success of this government’s Australian Naval Shipbuilding Plan,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The Navy is now equipped with a new level of flexibility and lethality to protect maritime task groups operating in an increasingly complex region, while also allowing us to work even closer with our allies.”
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said as the fifth warship to bear this name, she inherits an important legacy.
“Sydney was technically upgraded during her build to integrate the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk submarine-hunting helicopter and her Close-in Weapons Systems, making her Australia’s most lethal ship,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
“She is designed to protect task groups by providing air defence to accompanying ships, in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and self-protection against missiles and aircraft.”
Sydney's provisional acceptance ceremony took place at Adelaide’s Osborne naval shipyard on 28 February.
The ship will now primarily undertake combat system work-up activities until the end of the year in preparation for several months of US Navy Combat System Ship Qualification trials (CSSQT). These will include firings over the Pacific Test Range off San Diego of the destroyer's long range RIM-66 SM-2 Block IIIB and medium range RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow air-defence missiles.
Successful completion of the US CSSQT should then clear the way for final operational capability (FOC) for all three AWDs to be declared simultaneously by VADM Noonan.