The Royal Australian Navy has welcomed the newest addition to its amphibious capability, HMAS Choules.
The ship was officially commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet by the Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stephen Gilmore AM, CSC in a ceremony conducted at the Fremantle Passenger Terminal today.
Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare and Parliamentary Secretary for Defence David Feeney joined the Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AM CSC at the commissioning.
The acquisition of this ship will help ensure that the Royal Australian Navy has the amphibious capability it needs for operations and humanitarian support in our region in the period leading up to the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy’s Landing Helicopter Dock Ships in 2014 and 2015.
The Royal Australian Navy now has the following amphibious capability if required to provide humanitarian and disaster relief during the current cyclone season:
- HMAS Choules;
- HMAS Tobruk;
- Windermere – leased from P&O until 31 January 2012, with the option to extend to the end of February 2012;
- HMNZS Canterbury – under Australia’s agreement with New Zealand it would be made available as part of the joint Pacific-focused Ready Response Force, subject to any operational requirements in New Zealand; and,
- A number of Landing Craft, Heavy.
HMAS Choules is a Landing Ship Dock (LSD) which was originally commissioned into service with the Royal Navy in 2006.
The Government announced it had been successful in purchasing the ship, formally RFA Largs Bay, in April this year for £65 million (approximately $100 million).
The ship weighs 16,000 tonnes. It is 176 metres long and 26 metres wide. Its flight deck has room for two large helicopters and can also carry around 150 light trucks and 350 troops.
Its cargo capacity is the equivalent of the Manoora, Kanimbla and Tobruk combined.
HMAS Choules is a proven capability having provided humanitarian relief as part of the international response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
The ship has been fittingly named after the former Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules, who sadly passed away in May this year at the age of 110.
Claude Choules saw service in World War One and World War Two, as a member of both the Royal Navy and later the Royal Australian Navy.
He was Australia’s last living link to those who served in World War One. It is therefore fitting that this ship bears the name Choules to represent the vessel’s links to both Navies.
In the centenary year of Navy, it honours all of those men and women who, like Claude Choules, delivered quietly and with great dedication, loyal service to the Royal Australian Navy.
Mr Smith’s Office: Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473
Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan (02) 6277 7620 or 0418 251 316
Department: (02) 6127 1999