All calm for ‘disaster’ ship’s visit

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ALL was calm in Port Phillip and the view from HMAS Choules as it lay at anchor off Safety Beach last week.

Signs of life on the land would have been unremarkable for those aboard the Choules at night – vehicles travelling along bayside roads, house lights ablaze on the sides of Mt Martha and Arthurs Seat.

The only visible military equipment on Wednesday night was a helicopter and the aft deck, with no sign of a disaster or threat in sight.

One of the Royal Australian Navy’s landing ships that are deployed for military support or to supply humanitarian relief or help in the aftermath of natural disasters, the 177 metre Choules can carry more than 300 troops, 23 tanks or 150 trucks and landing craft.

Launched in 2003, the former RFA Largs Bay was part of Britain’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary from before being sold to Australia in 2011 for $100 million.

Two years before being transferred from one navy to another and while still sailing under the name Largs bay, the ship was part of the international relief effort following the Haiti earthquake.

The Choules is an amphibious landing ship dock that weighs in at 16,000 tonnes.

The Choules is part of the Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability to activate in the case of emergency or natural disaster along with the Canberra and Adelaide.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 15 October 2019

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