HMAS Choules, a Royal Australian Navy landing ship, has been instrumental in assisting hundreds of victims during the 2019 bushfire crisis.

HMAS Choules, a Royal Australian Navy landing ship, has been instrumental in assisting hundreds of victims during the 2019 bushfire crisis. And most recently, the Victorian town of Mallacoota has been assigned as the ceremonial homeport for HMAS Choules. Mallacoota was one of the areas hardest hit by the bushfires, with images of the devastation spreading around the world.

HMAS Choules (L100) is a Bay-class landing ship that served with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary from 2006 to 2011, before being purchased by the Royal Australian Navy. In the Royal Navy, the ship was called Largs Bay. While serving in the Royal Australian Army, she was renamed HMAS Choules, named after Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules. After modifications to make her more suited for Australian operating conditions, the vessel was commissioned in December 2011.

HMAS Choules
HMAS Choules

HMAS Choules has a full load displacement of 16,160 tonnes in Royal Navy service; this increased slightly to 16,190 tonnes after modifications for RAN service. The vessel is 176.6 m long, with a beam of 26.4 m, and a draught of 5.8 m. The large vehicle deck is directly accessible by the stern ramp and the side ramp. Cargo handling systems include two 30t upper deck cranes for freight and cargo handling. A floodable dock capable of operating one LCU mk10 utility landing craft is installed in the stern. The ship can also carry and operate two LCVP landing craft.

Propulsion power is provided by two Wärtsilä 8L26 generators, providing 6,000 horsepower, and two Wärtsilä 12V26 generators, providing 9,000 horsepower. These are used to drive two steerable propulsion pods, with a bow thruster supplementing. Maximum speed is 18 knots, a range of 8,000 nautical miles at 15 knots. The vessel is fitted a Phalanx CIWS for self defence. In the Royal Australian Army, Choules is served by a crew of 158 men, including 22 Army and 6 RAAF personnel.

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