The Royal Australian Navy has long been a small force that’s able to punch above its weight. Now, they’re taking on another advanced vessel, one that could very well see service with the United State Navy in the next decade.
The vessel in question is the Hobart-class air warfare destroyer. This vessel is based on the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class guided missile frigate. If that Spanish vessel sounds familiar, that’s because it’s one of the contenders in the United States Navy’s FFG(X) program — a strong one, given its use of the Aegis combat system and the SPY-1 radar.
Australia’s Navy has added some Spanish flavor — their Canberra-class amphibious assault ships are based on the Spanish Navy’s sole amphibious assault vessel, the Juan Carlos I.
Modified Adelaide-class guided missile frigates, like HMAS Darwin (forward), held the line until HMAS Hobart (rear) was ready to enter service.
(Photo by Nick-D)
The Hobart-class destroyer is basically half of an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. Its armament suite consists of a single five-inch gun, one 48-cell Mk 41 vertical launch system, two quad Mk 141 mounts for the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, a Mk 15 Phalanx, two 25mm Bushmaster chain guns, and two twin 324mm torpedo tube mounts. The vessels can also operate a MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter. The Mk 41 can fire RIM-66 SM-2 Standard missiles, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, RUM-139 Vertical-Launch ASROC, and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The Australians have been waiting for these vessels for a while. They retired their Perth-class guided-missile destroyers in 2001. These modified Charles F. Adams-class vessels were also quite formidable. They packed two five-inch guns, a Mk 13 launcher that fired RIM-66 SM-1 Standard missiles and RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, two Ikara launchers, and 324mm torpedo tubes.
Between the retiring of the Perth-class and the introduction of the Hobart-class, four of Australia’s Adelaide-class frigates (modified versions of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class) held the line. To do so, they were upgraded with Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles and the SM-2.
HMAS Hobart, shortly after her commissioning in 2017.
(Photo by Nick-D)
The Australian Navy has operated closely with the United States for decades. All three Perth-class vessels saw service in Vietnam (one of which was on the receiving end of a friendly-fire incident). A Perth-class destroyer also took part in Operation Desert Storm.
The first of the Hobart-class vessels, HMAS Hobart, has been commissioned, with the second vessel, HMAS Brisbane, due this year and a third, HMAS Sydney, coming in 2019. The performance of HMAS Hobart could very well determine how the United States Navy decides to fulfill its current frigate needs.