THE world’s second-largest semi-submersible transport ship MV Blue Marlin steamed through The Heads into Port Phillip early on Friday morning carrying the newest vessel of the Royal Australian Navy.
The hull of LHD Adelaide, the second of the navy’s new amphibious ships, was built at the renowned naval shipyard in Ferrol in northern Spain by Navantia and launched in July 2012 prior to further work being completed.
It is a sister ship to LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) Canberra, which arrived on Blue Marlin in October 2012 and is expected to start sea trials next month before being handed to the navy later this year.
Adelaide will be fitted out by BAE Systems at Williamstown shipyard before going into service, expected to be in 2016.
The ships are 230 metres long, 32 metres wide, have a maximum draught of 7.18 metres and replace the navy’s existing amphibious ships, which support land forces.
Adelaide will be partially “unfastened” over about two days, floated off when Blue Marlin submerges over about 24 hours in 23 metres and then towed by tugs to Williamstown, where shipping lanes will be closed until Adelaide has docked.
She will be berthed next to Canberra.
Carrying Adelaide 12,000 nautical miles around the Cape of Good Hope in 45 days was not the heaviest task for Blue Marlin but was a challenge to load and transport as the hull protrudes 55 metres at the aft of Blue Marlin, almost the length of the 60-metre long Sorrento-Queenscliff ferries.
At full load, Canberra and Adelaide will each displace 27,851 tonnes, making them the largest ships to serve in the RAN.
Blue Marlin can carry up to 76,000 tons, usually oil rigs, and was built in 2000 for Dockwise. It is 224 metres long and 63 metres wide.
It lost its title as the world’s largest semi-submersible heavy lift ship in late 2012 when Dutch company Dockwise took delivery of Vanguard, which can carry up to 110,000 tonnes.
In a statement, BAE’s Bill Saltzer said work had proceeded at a rapid pace in the past few months in preparation for the Adelaide hull’s arrival.
“Construction, consolidation and advance outfitting of the four sections of the superstructure has been undertaken at our Williamstown yard with fabrication of the mast modules undertaken at our Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.”
Mr Saltzer said Canberra had “effectively been completed and has successfully conducted a number of vehicle load trials to validate the vessel’s vast storage and operational spaces”.