Commissioned in December 2011, HMAS Choules is an amphibious Bay Class Landing Ship Dock (LSD) ship based on the Royal Schelde Enforcer design. It is a 16,000 tonne ship capable of carrying over 300 troops, 23 Abrams tanks, 150 light trucks, 2 landing craft, and is also capable of operating Navy helicopters including the MH-60R Seahawk and the Australian Army’s S-70A Black Hawk.

The ship originally entered service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary on 28 November 2006 as RFA Largs Bay (L3006). The Bay Class is a proven capability with Largs Bay having provided humanitarian relief as part of the international response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. On 17 March 2011, the Department of Defence announced that the Royal Australian Navy would be bidding for Largs Bay. This was followed on 6 April by news that a A$100 million (£65 million) bid had been successful.

The ship was formally handed to the Australian Defence Force in October 2011 following extensive sea trials to confirm the condition of the vessel. The ship also underwent a major refit to make her suitable for RAN service. This work included:

  • overhauling the main propulsion system, including diesel generators and azimuths
  • repainting the hull and flight deck
  • upgrading the tropical cooling system
  • upgrading and maintaining the salt water system
  • overhauling the stern ramp
  • extending the bridge front walkway
  • various safety enhancements
  • supplying and installing mexeflotes pontoons
  • installing a temporary aircraft shelter.

Specifications

Commanding Officer Commander Ross Upton
Class Bay Class
Type Landing Ship, Dock (LSD)
Pennant L100
International callsign VKJC
Motto Face Difficulty With Zeal
Home port Fleet Base East
Builder Swan Hunter Shipbuilders, Wallsend-on-Tyne
Laid down 28 January 2002
Launched 18 July 2005
Commissioned 13 December 2011
Displacement 16,190 tonnes
Length 176 metres
Beam 26.4 metres
Draught 5.8 metres
Speed 18 knots
Range 15,000 kilometres at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Crew 158
Capacity
  • 356 troops (standard) up to 700 troops (overload)
  • 32 Abrams tanks
  • 150 light trucks
  • Two LCVP
  • LCM-8
  • Two mexeflotes
Machinery
  • Diesel-electric propulsion systems with 2 azimuthing thrusters and bow thruster.
  • 4 main diesel generating sets: 2 × Wärtsilä 8L26 engines (2,240 kW each), 2 × Wärtsilä 12V26 engines (3,360 kW each).
  • 1 auxiliary Wärtsilä standby diesel generating set.
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Function

Dock landing ship