Australia's gift to PH Navy: 2 supply ships

MANILA, Philippines – Australia has donated to the Philippine Navy two recently decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) or supply ships, Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews announced on Thursday, January 29.

Former Royal Australian Navy vessels HMAS Tarakan and Brunei will be given to the Philippines already refurbished, equipped with new safety and navigation equipment, including spare parts.

“I expect the vessels will be refitted and ready for hand over in May 2015,” Andrews said in a statement. They were decommissioned in November 2014.

The supply ships are 44.5 meters long and have a speed of 10-13 Knots. They are capable of carrying up to 180 tons of cargo.

The Australian embassy described the LCH as "an extremely versatile vessel, capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore."

"A very shallow draft (two meters) allows these ships to deliver personnel and equipment to areas otherwise unreachable especially during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations," the embassy noted in a statement. 

Australia noted how the Philippine Navy's lack of sealift capability had hampered humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (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 added.

Australia also revealed the Philippine government's plan to purchase 3 more LCH that were decommissioned in 2012 – the former HMAS Wewak, Betano, and Balikpapan. – Rappler.com