Australia decommissions last Balikpapan-class LCHs

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MikeJames
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Australia decommissions last Balikpapan-class LCHs

Postby MikeJames » 24 Nov 2014 22:52

Australia decommissions last Balikpapan-class LCHs

Julian Kerr, Sydney - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

19 November 2014

Image
Balikpapan-class LCH HMAS Labuan seen at the class's home base of Cairns. Source: Royal Australian Navy

The last three of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) 45 m Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft (LCH) were decommissioned in Cairns on 20 November.

The 364-tonne vessels - HMAS Brunei , HMAS Labuan , and HMAS Tarakan - were inducted into RAN service in 1973. Following decommissioning, Labuan was gifted to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element.

The three other ships of the class - HMAS Wewak , HMAS Balikpapan , and HMAS Betana - were retired in December 2012.

The departure of the Balikpapan class leaves a gap in the RAN's ability to deliver troops and equipment to areas reachable only by ships with very shallow draught.

Limited regional sealift capacity will be provided by the landing ship dock (LSD) HMAS Choules with embarked LCM8 watercraft. LCM-1Es will also provide this capability, although these will only enter service with the two 27,500-tonne Canberra-class landing helicopter docks (LHDs) that will enter service early next year and in 2016 respectively.

Six new heavy landing craft with improved speed and seakeeping capabilities were included in the 2012 Defence Capability Plan (DCP). This envisaged nine years between first pass approval, which is yet to be received, and initial operating capability (IOC).

Ends

JP2048 used to have Phase 5: Balikpapan class landing craft replacement – 6 new LCH design, but I don't see it on the active list of projects proceeding, there was supposed to be a decision in 2012 originally but it's been back-burnered. Well at least until now. On Nov 19 the Assistant Minister for Defence had this to say:

“The Balikpapan Class vessels will be replaced by six new heavy landing craft that will have improved ocean going capabilities and be able to transport armoured vehicles, trucks, stores and personnel.”

Don't hold your breath.
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MikeJames
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Re: Australia decommissions last Balikpapan-class LCHs

Postby MikeJames » 02 Feb 2015 10:30

And on to new owners. I also understand that the PAF are looking at the first three which were mothballed after decommissioning. The deal also includes all the RAN's spares inventory for the LCHs

Australia to donate heavy landing craft to Philippines

James Hardy, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

29 January 2015

The Philippines is set to receive two Balikpapan-class LCHs similar to HMAS Labuan (seen here) from Australia. Source: Royal Australian Navy

Australia is donating two recently decommissioned Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft (LCH) vessels to the Philippines, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews announced on 29 January.

The last three of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) 364-tonne, 45 m LCHs were decommissioned on 20 November 2014.

The vessels - HMAS Brunei , HMAS Labuan , and HMAS Tarakan - were inducted into RAN service in 1973. Following decommissioning, Labuan was gifted to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element.

The three other ships of the class - HMAS Wewak , HMAS Balikpapan , and HMAS Betano - were retired in December 2012.

Tarakan and Brunei will be handed over to the Philippine Navy in May after being refurbished with new safety and navigation equipment, Andrews said in a statement.

The statement said the LCHs would help the Philippines' humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities, which were tested in 2013's Typhoon Haiyan.

"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 statement said that Manila was also considering whether to purchase Wewak , Betano , and Balikpapan .

Meanwhile, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress on 25 January of the possible purchase by Australia of six BAE Systems M88A2 heavy equipment recovery combat utility lift and evacuation system (Hercules) improved recovery vehicles and associated equipment.

The deal, estimated at USD47 million, would see Canberra buy six "M88A2 Hercules heavy recovery vehicles and seven force XXI battle command, brigade and below/blue force trackers, with AN/PSN-13(V) global positioning system and defence advanced GPS receivers", the DSCA said in a statement.

Australia already has seven M88A2 Hercules in service, purchased in 2006 as part of a US Foreign Military Sales package deal worth AUD557 million (USD419 million) that also included 59 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.

COMMENT

While Australia emphasised the humanitarian value of its donation of the LCHs to the Philippines, the military capabilities they bring will of course be welcomed by Manila.

The Philippine Navy (PN) faces sizeable challenges in patrolling and protecting the archipelago, which comprises 7,107 islands and has the third longest coastline in the world after Canada and Indonesia.

Jane's World Navies describes it has suffering from "a perennial problem of limited defence funding and because its fleet comprises mostly ageing vessels. The fact that PN's capabilities were assessed as being greatly enhanced by the delivery of a 44-year-old former US Coast Guard cutter in August 2011 illustrates the navy's inherent weakness and its inability to maintain a credible fleet."

Other countries are also donating vessels to the PN. South Korea has committed to giving at least one Po Hang-class corvette and two landing craft utility (LCU) vessels to Manila, according to Philippine officials, while Japan has previously agreed to offer patrol vessels.

Beyond the LCHs, the PN is looking to modernise its fleet by buying at least two newbuild frigates and two strategic sealift vessels (SSVs). The newbuild frigate programme specifically calls for a platform with a displacement of at least 2,000 tonnes and a length greater than 100 m. Six shipbuilders - including South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), India's Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), and Spain's Navantia - are vying for the contract.

Construction by Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL of the first of the SSVs, to be based on Indonesia's Makassar-class landing platform docks, began on 22 Janu

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