Oz Defence Minister Stephen Smith says "maintenance and sustainment of our amphibious capability has effectively failed". Its landing ship HMAS Manoora is going on the scrapheap (it has major hull corrosion and needs new gear boxes) and Kanimbla needs so much fix-up work that it won't be match-fit until April 2012. The fleet has been poorly maintained for over a decade and has suffered the "adverse side effects of a make-do culture". Another landing ship, Tobruk, had been on 48hrs notice to go to sea but when Cyclone Yasi hit Queensland, it wasn't ready: Smith reckoned they'd find the same problems with that one too.
And indeed, 38 of the Oz navy's 54 vessels could not operate at full capacity for at least some of the first six months of last year.
Ocker embarassment comes after decades of it quietly mocking the capability of NZ Defence Forces. Yeup, humble pie tastes like... kangaroo! Hehehehehe...
Smith says until they can beg, steal or borrow a ship from the Brits, the only heavy lift landing ship is a koiwoi one. Canterbury will now be in a joint military force, set up to deal with emergencies and disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
As I've said before, there's a consistency here, and it's AUSTRALIAN WORKMANSHIP... or lack thereof. I served in the military, and know the rigorous checks and balances surrounding maintenance. To have this sort of long-term systemic failure indicates short-cuts, shoddy work, shady sign-offs...
At least Canterbury is up to the job: it's proven itself to be roadworthy and, curiously enough, it was NOT assembled in Oz: unlike the new arrivals HMNZShipwrecks Otago and Wellington, it was built in the Netherlands.
PS: 16 Feb.2011 - Oz solution...hire a cat to replace the dogs.