Sierra NevandaA keel-laying ceremony took place recently at Henderson in Western Australia for the prototype of a new class of military landing craft specifically designed for the Australian Army to rapidly deploy crew and vehicles across the Indo-Pacific.

Conceived, funded and led by Australian prime contractor Birdon, the project brings together a world class team of wholly Australian-owned companies. The 50-metre amphibious vessel was jointly designed by Birdon and multi award-winning naval architects Incat Crowther, and is being constructed in Henderson by industry leading Western Australian ship builder, Echo Marine Group.

When completed, it will be a full-scale operational proof of concept for Birdon’s proposed new class of Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M), offered under the LAND8710 Phase 1A Request for Tender. The new vessel is designed to carry a range of heavy vehicles, accommodating a crew and operating for an extended range over open ocean.

The vessel has been purpose designed as an advanced, independent, long range landing craft with deep reach, tremendous capacity and with the robustness and resilience for it to adapt to future needs. Crew habitability, endurance and protection are key features of the vessel which has been designed to deliver capability beyond any other landing craft of its size currently in service or advertised globally.

The keel-laying ceremony was attended by members of the local workforce who are constructing the vessel, along with the Hon Roger Cook MLA, Deputy Premier of Western Australia, Minister for State Development and Member for Kwinana, Mr Josh Wilson MP, Member for Fremantle, the Mayor of Cockburn City Council, Australian Army officers and representatives of Birdon, Echo Marine and their local supply chain partners.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Hon Roger Cook MLA, said: “This innovative design will give troops a best-in-class military landing vehicle, which has been specifically designed for the Australian Army to operate throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The Western Australian Government recognises the unique and important role Birdon, Echo Marine and Incat Crowther plays in enabling Australia’s world class marine capability. This is another example of how WA is home to some of the world’s most capable and innovative suppliers to the global defence industry, supported by a world-class centre of excellence for manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, maintenance and technology development at the Australian Marine Complex.”

Birdon’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Bruce said: “Building a new class of landing craft with a truly Australian design and relying on local supply chains is something worth celebrating as we lay the keel for this vessel in Western Australia. We are pleased to be utilising Echo Marine’s highly skilled local workforce while also supporting new jobs in Western Australia right throughout the supply chain in the delivery of this self-funded project.”

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