Australia is donating two decommissioned military naval landing craft Balikpapan-class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) to the Philippines which had both previously been decommissioned by the Royal Australian Navy .
Each (LCH) ship is 44.5 meters long, 10.1 meters wide, a draught of 2.0 meters, and full load displacement of 517 tons. It has a 16-man crew, a carrying capacity of 180 tons of cargo, and is powered by two Caterpillar 3406E marine diesel engines propelling the ships to a maximum speed of 10 knots.
As gifts stand, the donation of ex –HMAS Tarakan and Brunei is particularly generous – the Royal Australian Navy will hand them over fully refurbished with new safety and navigation components, plus spare parts packages before being sent to the Philippines in May this year. Manila is considering purchasing the three remaining LCHs as well.
The Philippine Navy will then use the vessels to aid humanitarian assistance as the country continues to struggle with the devastation caused by Super Typhoon like Haiyan or Yolanda.
The LCH is particularly timely, as it complements the upcoming pair of Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV), being built by PT PAL Indonesia. Based on the Indonesian navy’s successful Makassar-class Landing Platform Dock (LPD), the 8,600-ton amphibious lift ships can transit to remote areas and serve as a mobile base for helicopters and smaller landing craft.
The donation of two Balikpapan-class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) from Australia was the most recent boost to Philippines defense efforts.