The completed hull of the first of the Royal Australian Navy’s new helicopter landing ships has departed northern Spain for integration with the remainder of the ship in Australia. The 230m long section of the next HMAS Canberra was floated onto the deck of the semi-submersible heavy-lift ship Blue Marlin during a four-and-a-half hour operation at Punta Langosteira, near La Coruña, on 4 August.

Despite being transported on the largest ship of its type in the world, Canberra still overhangs at the stern by 55m, and it took a further week to ensure the load was firmly secured ahead of a treacherous 12,000 nautical mile voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne.

Upon arrival, the hull will be moved to BAE Systems’ Williamstown facility, where the superstructure will be added and combat, communications and navigation systems installed. The vessel is scheduled to be delivered to the RAN in early 2014.

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