DND to acquire 3 'Balikpapan' landing craft heavy

10:08:00 PM
MANILA, -- The Department of National Defense (DND) will acquire three of Australia's "Balikapapan" class LCHs (landing craft heavy) at "salvage prices" which is 10 to 15 percent of the value.

DND public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said that the LCHs are the HMAS Wewak, HMAS Betano and HMAS Balikpapan.

Salvage value of the ships could range from Php700-million to Php800-million, sources said.

The decision to acquire three remaining units of the "Balikpapan" LCHs was due to the decision of the Australian government to donate two of the vessels to the Philippine Navy.

The two LCHs will be delivered and commissioned by May 2015.

These ships are recently decommissioned from the Royal Australian Navy and are identified as the HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Brunei, Australian Minister for Defense Kevin Andrew said.

He added two ships will be delivered to the PN after being refurbished with new safety and navigation equipment.

“I expect the vessels will be refitted and ready for hand over in May 2015,” Andrews said.

Once in service at the PN, these ships will provide additional intra-theater sealift capability.

A lack of sealift capability hampered efforts to assist Philippines’ coastal areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.

“The landing craft will greatly improve the Philippines’ ability to respond to natural disasters by enabling heavy equipment and large amounts of aid to be moved to affected areas,” Andrews said.

The two LCHs were decommissioned from Australian service at a ceremony in Cairns last Nov. 19, 2014.

LCHs are an extremely versatile vessel, capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore.

A very shallow draft (two meters) allows these ships to deliver personnel and equipment to areas otherwise unreachable especially during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR).

It is an all-welded twin-screw vessel, able to trans-ship cargo and supplies from ships lying offshore to water terminals or across the beach.

Maximum cargo load is governed by the load-fuel balance and varies between 140 and 180 tons.

A typical load of 175 ton gives the LCHs a range of 1,300 nautical miles, increasing to 2,280 nautical miles for a load of 150 tons.

Up to five shipping containers with HADR supplies and equipment can also be embarked.

LCHs have a draft of two meters, length of 44.5 meters, beam of 10.1 meters and displacement of 364 tons. It has a speed to 10 to 13 knots and a range of 3,000 nautical miles and a crew of 15.

HMAS Betano approaches HMAS Kanimbla to carry out a stern door marriage near Cowley Beach, Queensland.



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