The Royal Australian Navy’s new amphibious ship HMAS Choules has successfully completed its first major amphibious training tasks.
Source: Australian Department of Defence
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Navy and Army have come together during the last three weeks for the amphibious exercises SQUADEX and SEA LION.
Exercise SQUADEX provided practice for drivers of Army and Navy landing craft along with a variety of vehicle types as they drive on and off HMAS Choules.
HMAS Choules is significantly larger than the amphibious ships she replaced and gives the ADF new capabilities such as a floating dock.
The internal docking facility (or well dock) can be flooded to a depth of up to three metres so landing craft and the ship’s own landing barges actually drive inside the hull while the ship is at sea, taking on their cargo of vehicles and people in safe and controlled conditions.
Army Blackhawk helicopter pilots from 5 Aviation Regiment have also put the ship to the test, flying constant sorties to confirm their deck landing qualifications and practice cargo and personnel transfers.
For exercise SEA LION, HMAS Choules was joined by the New Zealand amphibious ship HMNZS Canterbury, Australian Army personnel from Townsville’s 3rd Brigade and planning staff from all three services around Australia. This exercise focused on ensuring the ADF is prepared for a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief incident in our region.
HMAS Choules’ Commanding Officer, Commander John Cowan, said Choules had the capacity to conduct simultaneous landing craft and helicopter operations, day and night, to support humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
“Using Choules’ well dock to move personnel and equipment ashore allows a significant increase in the speed of transfer compared with the Navy’s previous Landing Platform Amphibious ships,” Commander Cowan said.
Choules has a crew of 158 officers and sailors, including a permanently embarked Ships Army Department of 22. The ship can accommodate two large helicopters, 150 light trucks and 350 troops.
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