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October 27, 2011
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Navy The official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy
Imagery Specialist / Reporter
LSIS Paul Berry
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Defence News Reporters
Graham McBean, LCDR Andrew Stackpool, SGT
Andrew Hetherington, CPL Melanie Schinkel, CPL
Zenith King, LCPL Mark Doran, LAC Bill Solomou,
SPR Nick Wiseman & CFN Max Bree
RFA Largs Bay, now ADF Ship
Choules, was formally handed to the
ADF at Falmouth Dockyard in the
United Kingdom on October 19.
Choules will set sail for Australia in
November, arriving in Western Australia
in mid-December, when it will be offi-
cially commissioned HMAS Choules.
Choules is a Landing Ship Dock
(LSD) which was commissioned into
service in 2006.
The Government announced it had
been successful in purchasing the ship,
formally RFA Largs Bay, in April this
year for £65 million (about $100 mil-
The ship weighs 16,000 tonnes. It
is 176m long and 26m wide. Its flight
deck has room for two large helicop-
ters and can also carry around 150 light
trucks and 350 troops.
Its cargo capacity is the equivalent
of HMA Ships Manoora, Kanimbla and
Choules is a proven capability hav-
ing provided humanitarian relief as part
of the international response to the Haiti
earthquake in 2010.
The acquisition of the ship will help
ensure that the RAN has the amphibi-
ous capability it needs for operation
and humanitarian support in the period
leading up to the arrival of the Landing
Helicopter Dock ships.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith and
Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare
paid tribute to the ship's company of
Choules, who have worked hard to learn
new skills and procedures in a relatively
short time frame to operate the ship
safely and be ready for the handover.
The ship has been fittingly named
after the World War I and II veteran
CPO Claude Choules, who passed away
in May this year at the age of 110.
Choules handed over
CAPABILITY BOOST: RFA Largs Bay is now officially ADF
Ship Choules after being handed to the ADF in the UK on
October 19. The ship is named after former CPO Claude
Choules, pictured left.
Photos: UK Ministry of Defence and ABIS Morgana Ramsey
By Graham McBean
A SMALL delegation of ADF offic-
ers led by MAJGEN Rick Burr and
CDRE Ian Middleton saw firsthand
the future of the Australian amphibi-
ous capability last month with a
visit aboard the Spanish Helicopter
Landing Dock (LHD) VP Juan
The Spanish vessel was commis-
sioned in 2010 and is similar to the
two Canberra-class LHDs, the first of
which is due in service with the RAN
CMDR Peter Thompson, from
the Joint Amphibious Capability
Implementation Team (JACIT), said
it was a remarkable experience to be
among the first Australian officers to
searide in the ship.
"It was fascinating. Despite hav-
ing spent the past two years working
on the introduction of LHD, it is very
difficult to visualise how big this ship
is until you are on board," CMDR
"When ADF personnel see this ship
for the first time they will realise what
a game changer this is for the ADF.
This capability will change the way
the ADF trains and operates for the
next four decades."
Juan Carlos I is similar in size to
the US WASP-class amphibious ships
which are regular visitors to Australia.
It is more than 230m long and the
flight deck is 27m above the water
line. At 28,000 tonnes, it dwarfs the
8500-tonne LPA and 5800-tonne LSH.
Crewed by a ship's company con-
sisting of Navy, Army and Air Force
personnel, the LHD can carry up to
1000 soldiers and its multifunction
garage and hangar space on two levels
covers 6000 sqm.
"The ship appears very well
designed and built. Mess decks are
very comfortable and there are a large
number of recreation spaces for the
crew and embarked forces to use,"
CMDR Thompson said.
"The design is decades advanced
on our existing ships and will make
life on board very comfortable."
The Australian visitors had the
opportunity to see the ship conducting
flight deck and well dock operations
employing the Spanish-designed and
built LCM1E landing craft and a range
of Spanish marine armoured vehicles.
The tour also included the flight
deck, flight control and briefing
rooms, light and heavy vehicle decks,
engineering spaces and the hospital,
which CMDR Thompson said was
"a very impressive facility in its own
He said its combination of triage,
operating theatres, x-ray facilities and
resuscitation capability made it equal
to a very capable regional hospital.
Spanish company Navantia will
complete construction of the ship
from keel to flight deck by mid-2012,
after which it will be transferred to
Williamstown shipyard in Melbourne
for completion by BAE Systems
For more photos of Juan Carlos I visit
Gigantic leap forward
MASSIVE: ADF officers recently toured
Spanish LHD Juan Carlos I to get a look
at the capability the ADF will have when
the Canberra-class LHDs enter service.
This view looks down the take-off ramp
towards the bridge.
Photo provided by CMDR Peter Thompson
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