The LAND 8710 Request for Tender (RFT) closed earlier this year, with Birdon among the competitors. Naval News understands that Defence has likely already made its recommendation to the government, however, the winning proposal is unlikely to be announced until March 2023.
Earlier this year, at Indo Pacific, Birdon quietly announced a partnership with Echo Marine Group to produce their design. Even though the RFT process has concluded, Birdon was unwilling to detail any technical information about the vessel, or how the industrial partnership is structured.
Birdons offering is understood to be longer than many competitors at around 45 metres. The additional length is partially used up by the design’s large aviation deck, which is significantly larger than its competitors. Uniquely among the field of LMV-M entries, Birdons design has a centrally mounted wheelhouse that isn’t offset from the vehicle bay, possibly blocking sightlines aboard a loaded craft.
Echo Marine Group, which would build the Birdon craft, have two assembly halls measuring 103 and 83 metres respectively. The company hasn’t previously constructed vessels for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), however, they have provided components for the Anzac class frigates and Arafura class OPVs.
Landing Craft Australia
Landing Craft Australia (LCA), a joint venture of Navantia Australia and UGL, unveiled their Kodal Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M) design in June this year after announcing their teaming agreement during Indo Pacific 2022. The design itself was on display for the first time during Land Forces 2022.
LCA says that the collaboration comes out of the two companies work on sustaining and upgrading the Royal Australian Navy’s LHD Landing Craft (LLC), originally built by Navantia S.A. S.M.E. LCA leveraged this corporate heritage to create the Kodal LMV-M as an entirely clean sheet design, originating out of Navantia Australia’s Melbourne design and engineering office.
Navantia Australia told Naval News that the Kodal LMV-M has been designed with optimised dimensions for the required capability. It is 39 metres long and is fitted with a unique two-leaf folding ramp and weather shield forward. Navantia Australia emphasised that, because it’s a new design, it allowed them to tailor it explicitly to the challenging Australian requirements.
If selected for LAND 8710, Landing Craft Australia’s team will leverage Navantia Australia’s design expertise and UGLs proven record of managing complex integration projects to deliver the project. LCA will construct the vessels at the Western Australian Government’s Common User Facility (CUF), at the Australian Maritime Complex in Henderson.
Australian Maritime Alliance
Serco and Civmec are collaborating as the Australian Maritime Alliance (AMA) to offer a design dubbed Oboe. Earlier this year, AMA announced that it had teamed with IMC Naval Architects to strengthen its offering.
The Oboe design is based on a concept originally designed for the U.S Army’s Maneuver Support Vessel-Light (MSV-L) program. Rob Slaven, Defence Business Development Director at Serco, told Naval News that adjusting the design didn’t require large-scale changes.
When we originally designed it for the US Army, the US Army only wanted seven people in the crew, Australian Army wanted 10. So what did that mean for our design? All we had to do is actually rearrange a couple of bulkheads in the lower deck accommodation model such that we now have a generously sized, mixed-gender accommodation module, with space-weight options for further adaptation if required.”Rob Slaven Defence Business Development Director at Serco
Unlike the other competitors, the Oboe is fully roll-on-roll-off, with vehicle access provided at both ends of the vehicle. AMA intends to construct the vessels at Civemecs facility in Henderson, WA, where the company is currently assembling Arafura class OPVs.
Unlike Land Forces 2021, neither Austal nor its partners were in attendance at this year’s show. The joint venture’s design is based on BMTs in service Caimen series of landing craft, adapted to Australian requirements. According to the team, this makes it’s offering the “lowest risk” contender.