May 8, 2018

Royal Australian Navy's Landing Helicopter Docks' (LHDs) Pod Problems Still Ongoing

One of the Royal Australian Navy's Landing Helicopter Docks' (LHDs) azimuth propulsion pods has faced more issues this year, following months in dry dock last year.

A member of Defence confirmed to the joint standing committee for foreign affairs, defence and trade that in March this year, the pods on one of the amphibious assault ships suffered from leakage.

"We have had an issue this year in March where we had a small amount of leakage because one of the seals was leaking," a Defence spokesperson told the committee.

The vessel was undocked today and the seal will be replaced, the spokesperson said.

Confirmation of the leakage comes after both HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra were in dry dock from March 2017 until June 2017 due to a migration of oils across seals in the LHDs' azimuth propulsion pod systems.

The docking and inspection of Adelaide in 2017 identified wear in some bearings in the port pod, which was assessed to be the likely cause of the oil contamination.

Defence Department Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) deputy secretary Kim Gillis told the Parliament’s joint committee of public accounts and audit last month that 45 per cent of the slippage of the LHDs related to fixing, and potentially recovering costs, of the propulsion pods for the LHDs, the Canberra and the Adelaide.

"We are in commercial negotiations so we have remediated the pods... we are in commercial negotiations with the companies and manufacturers, so you have an asset which is now operational, but we haven’t defined it as full operational capability until we actually (have) completed these commercial negotiations," Gillis said.

"This is something we are driving industry to make sure they have fully remediated and if there is an appropriate cost recovery … we are in commercial negotiations with those companies as we speak."

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