The Spanish warship Alvaro de Bazan (F101) is on a sales visit to Australia. It is at the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Fleet Base East, HMAS Kuttabul, Garden Island (accompanied by the F111). This is in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. In many countries the main naval base would be cloaked in secrecy and security. In contrast the ships of the RAN base can be photographed from luxury apartments of the Finger wharf hotel and the Pool Side Cafe, at the Andrew "boy" Charlton Public Swimming Pool. next to the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.
Despite considerable military air traffic overhead things are quiet on the ship. It happened to be the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Part of the festivities were fly pasts by a Catalina flying boat and paratroops descending from a RAAF C-130 Hercules, plus the Holden "blimp". My last visit to Garden Island was when I organized a meeting of the Australian Computer Society on board the Flagship of the US 7th Fleet.
The F101, is one of two designs in competition for the RAN "Air Warfare Destroyer". One confusing point is that the ship is described as "F100 class", but is the "F101", which is the lead ship of the new class.
The F101 is equipped with the Aegis combat system. It is smaller than US ships with this equipment. The Australian ships will use the locally developed radar antenna designed by CEA Technologies in Canberra.
The small size of the ship makes it less expensive, but not because less material is needed to build it but because it has a smaller crew. An Australian version will likely be larger due to the need to cover larger distances without replenishment. The worry for the Finance Department is that the RAN may be tempted to fill the extra space with expensive equipment and crew, rather than extra supplies.
The F101 is from the same Spanish shipbuilder who is one of the two designers shortlisted to build two "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships.
If you would like to visit the Andrew "boy" Charlton Public Swimming Pool, take the 441 bus from the City.
By the way, thanks to the State Library of NSW for wireless internet access to post this item.