Insider tells Pirie club how Air Warfare Destroyers were built

MISSILE: Rotarian Warren Johns, left, and guest speaker Peter Newman show an image of an Air Warfare Destroyer firing a missile.

MISSILE: Rotarian Warren Johns, left, and guest speaker Peter Newman show an image of an Air Warfare Destroyer firing a missile.

It was the day the Air Warfare Destroyers came to the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club.

In a meeting room, with yachts stacked in a shed nearby, Peter Newman fired up the images of Australia's latest naval weapon.

"Boom" went the destroyer's cannon on the Powerpoint screen as Mr Newman played a video of one of the three new warships in sea trials.

Members of the Rotary Club of Port Pirie were enthralled by the presentation by Mr Newman who played a leading role in building the vessels.

Mr Newman, of Auburn, in the Clare Valley, works at the naval shipyards at Osborne, Port Adelaide, as principal technical officer - combat systems.

"We started with a greenfield site just south of where the navy's submarines are built," he said.

"What we have delivered is incredible.

"We have not just built ships, we have built a capability.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars are going to be spent in South Australia because of what we have done in the past 15 years."

Asked by Rotarian Warren Johns to say who Australia was defending itself against, Mr Newman said his view was that our country should "speak softly and carry a big stick".

"If we don't have a strong defence force, people will walk all over us," he said.

"We must be able to stand on our own two feet."

He said the ships were tested off the United States.

The destroyers can "talk" to each other about what they can see underwater, he said, in a system developed for the first time outside the US.

"They will be the most capable warships ever operated by the Royal Australian Navy," Mr Newman said.

The ships each weigh 7000 tonnes and are 150 metres long. They are equipped with spy radar and over-the-horizon radar as well as torpedoes.

A distinctive red kangaroo emblem is displayed on the superstructure.

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