Canberra: Australia launched HMAS Hobart, the first of three destroyers, at the Port River wharf in Adelaide on Saturday, a milestone for the country`s Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) programme, Australia`s Department of Defence said in a statement.
"This is a key achievement for the programme and a big step towards the delivery of three highly capable warships to the Royal Australian Navy," the statement said.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said Hobart is fully consolidated with substantial combat and platform systems, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said that the second destroyer, HMAS Brisbane, is now in an advanced state of fit-out with more than half of the blocks already consolidated on the hardstand.
"Once fully operational, the warships will have a combination of great endurance, offensive and defensive weapons, flexibility and versatility," he said.
The AWD programme is one of the largest and most complex defence projects ever undertaken in Australia and has been instrumental in building a strong shipbuilding capability in the country.
The Hobart project has involved an Australian workforce of some 3,000 people. This includes the AWD Alliance made up of lead shipbuilder ASC, mission systems integrator Raytheon Australia and the Department of Defence, including the Royal Australian Navy.
The programme has also been supported by the US Navy, Navantia, Lockheed Martin, Forgacs, BAE Systems and MG Engineering.
With Hobart in the water, the second destroyer, Brisbane, can soon take its place on the hardstand to undergo final block consolidation, and the keel for the third destroyer, Sydney, will be laid.
The AWD Alliance can now focus on ship completion and system commissioning for Hobart, which will be followed by sea trials next year.
The government has finalized a forensic audit to quantify the level of cost and schedule overruns in the Air Warfare Destroyer Project.
The most reliable estimates now suggest that the project will require an additional$1.2 billion (US $939 million) to be completed, which will have to be funded at the expense of other defence acquisitions.