CANBERRA, Australia, July 2 (UPI) -- The final keel block of Australia's first-of-class air warfare destroyers has been lifted into place in preparation for hull consolidation next year.
"This particular block will house flotation and stabilization equipment for the Hobart and will now be consolidated into the existing ship structure to complete the keel," Minister for Defense Materiel Dr. Mike Kelly said.
"The keel is the main structural element stretching along the center line of the bottom of a ship from the bow to the stern. The keel blocks will contain part of the Vertical Launch System, the diesel and gas turbine main engine rooms, auxiliary engine rooms, ballast tanks, propeller shafts and sonar equipment."
Work on the destroyer is taking place at the ASC Pty Ltd. shipyard in Adelaide. ASC is part of the AWD Alliance, formed with the government's Defense Materiel Organization and systems integrator Raytheon Australia.
Consolidation of the hull of the Hobart is expected to be completed by early next year.
Each Hobart-class destroyer will have 48 missile cells -- each cell able to be armed with either a single Standard Missile 2, or four Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.
"The Hobart Class destroyers will provide the Royal Australian Navy with the most capable warships they have ever operated, with a sophisticated range of both offensive and defensive weapons," Kelly said.
Australia is building three Hobart-class AWD ships.