The Royal Australian Navy's newest ship HMAS Choules has arrived at its homeport at Fleet Base East in Sydney after being formally commissioned into service in Fremantle on 13 December 2011.
Commander of Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore AM, CSC, RAN welcomed the ship and her crew of 158 and said she would make an exciting addition to the Navy.
"It was terrific to see her sail through Sydney Harbour flying the White Ensign for the first time," Rear Admiral Gilmore said.
HMAS Choules has been named after the longest surviving World War One veteran, Claude Choules who passed away in April this year at age 110.
"The crew has already given the ship a strong sense of character through the hard work that has been undertaken in the lead up to HMAS Choules' commissioning," Rear Admiral Gilmore said.
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.
With a cargo capacity the equivalent of HMA Ships Manoora, Kanimbla and Tobruk combined, HMAS Choules is a proven capability having provided humanitarian relief when she was under Royal Navy command as RFA Largs Bay, assisting as part of the international response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
The 176 metre long vessel has a crew of 158 Officers and sailors, and can accommodate two large helicopters such as Sea Hawks and Black Hawks, 150 light trucks and 350 troops. HMAS Choules also carries two mexeflotes, which are landing raft, designed to move goods and vehicles between the ship and the shore.
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.
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