The Australian Department of Defence has begun training future operators of the country’s upcoming littoral maneuver fleet.
Launched in support of Canberra’s Defence Strategic Review, the Littoral Manoeuvre Program seeks new landing craft capabilities to improve the deployment and sustainment of combat units across the Indo-Pacific region.
The workforce receiving training for the expanded fleet will start manning the medium and heavy landing crafts in 2027 and 2028, right after the induction of ordered systems into the service.
Personnel chosen for the Accelerated Maritime Officer course began preparations this month in partnership with the Royal Australian Navy.
The lessons will run for 18 months. Half of the period will be facilitated at installations in Sydney or Perth, while the remaining months will test practical skills at sea.
“Army has been operating in the littoral environment since before Gallipoli and these vessels are the next step in Army’s transformation for littoral manoeuvre operations by sea, land and air,” Australian Army Land Capability Head Maj. Gen. Richard Vagg stated.
“They will significantly advance our ability to conduct operations that influence our northern approach, support our regional partners and protect our national interests. Our people look forward to working closely with our Navy counterparts to build their maritime skills.”
Prototypes Underway at Henderson
As part of the training, the first officers examined the landing craft prototype at a shipyard facility in Henderson.
“We’ve been selected to be among the first that will crew and command these vessels. When I signed up, this wasn’t on the cards, so it’s incredible things are moving so quickly,” Capt. Gemma Chmielewski said during the visit.
“I know we’re all excited to be involved with a program in its early stages – to be front and centre for Army’s evolution in this space.”
Littoral Manoeuvre Program
Australian Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy revealed the Littoral Manoeuvre Program in November 2023.
The Austal shipbuilding company signed the contract to build the medium and heavy landing crafts, while Birdon Group was selected to provide additional design services.
The vessel’s medium variant will have a maximum sailing range of 500 nautical miles (926 kilometers/575 miles) and space to carry an Abrams main battle tank, a Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), or four HIMARS launchers.
Meanwhile, the heavy variant will be capable of sailing up to 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) with the capacity for six Abrams tanks, 11 Redback IFVs, or 26 HIMARS systems.