Philip Smart | Adelaide

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) have joined the navy’s new LHD amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra in Townsville as part of the ship’s progress towards achieving unit readiness.

The unit readiness evaluation will assess the ship across all her capabilities, including deploying Army personnel, vehicles and equipment via helicopter and landing craft.

Canberra’s Amphibious Operations Officer Major Mathew Singers said the initial embarkation of the 26 vehicles and 156 troops went smoothly.

“In regard to vehicles, we have everything from G-Wagons to ASLAVs on board,” Major Singers said.

“The troops include engineers, infantry, artillery, drivers, clerks, signallers and two explosive detection dogs.”

Training began with learning the ship’s routines for emergencies and leaving ship stations. The ship will exercise assault stations where the troops and ship’s company will practise moving personnel through the troop assembly area on the light cargo deck up to the flight deck and also down to the well dock.

Major Singers said after the initial practise the troops would move through the process in full combat load, collecting the equipment they would take ashore and rehearsing loading into helicopters and landing craft.

Later this year Canberra will return to the north-east coast to begin a series of exercises, again embarking 2RAR.

“This first exercise has focused on unit readiness and making sure the ship can deploy amphibious forces in what would generally benign environment,” Major Singers said.

“In the second half of the year, these exercises will progressively work the ship and 2RAR up to be able to deploy amphibious forces by sea and air in a tactical, high-threat environment.”

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