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Army April 28, 2011
Largs landing soon
By Cpl Melanie Schinkel
SOLDIERS can expect to serve in
Navy's latest amphibious acquisi-
tion, the five-year-old Largs Bay,
by early next year.
Acquired from the UK for about
$100m on April 6, the Landing
Ship Dock-class Largs Bay will
transit to Australia at the end of
this year and be introduced into
service in time for the next cyclone
The Deputy Director for Army's
Joint Amphibious Capability
Implementation Team, Lt-Col
Paul Smith, said the Largs Bay
was not a direct replacement for
the decommissioned Landing
Platform Amphibious-class ship
Manoora, but that it did provide
an interim capability while Navy's
current amphibious ships, HMAS
Kanimbla and Tobruk, underwent
"The Largs Bay will fill the gap
that's been created by the early
decommissioning of Manoora and
provide the ADF with the capa-
bility to support humanitarian and
non-combatant operations until the
Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD)-
class ships come online," Lt-Col
"Just as we have in the past for
Manoora and Kanimbla, Army
will provide personnel to form the
Ship's Army Detachment (SAD)
on board the Largs Bay.
"Most of these soldiers will be
drawn from the Royal Australian
Corps of Transport to act as termi-
nal and watercraft operators. Army
will also be expected to provide an
Amphibious Beach Team."
Unlike Manoora and Kanimbla,
but similar to the LHD, the Largs
Bay has a well dock.
Lt-Col Smith said the well dock
provided the flexibility of embark-
ing and disembarking watercraft
from within the protected confines
of the ship.
"The purchase of the Largs Bay
is a great outcome for Army. Army
now has the opportunity to devel-
op well dock transition training
and procedures before the LHDs
HMAS Canberra and Adelaide are
introduced into service.
"Learning how to operate the
well dock will be a new chal-
lenge for terminal and watercraft
operators, but also a great train-
ing opportunity because well
dock operations will become the
amphibious soldiers' bread and
butter on board the LHDs."
Although the Largs Bay will
be capable of embarking MRH 90
and Black Hawk helicopters, it cur-
rently doesn't have a permanent
on-board hangar facility.
"A temporary aircraft shelter
will be purchased and the model
we intend to buy has been used by
the Royal Navy with the Largs Bay
in the past," Lt-Col Smith said.
In addition to the temporary air-
craft shelter, two mexeflotes will
also be acquired.
"Essentially, the mexeflote is
a powered floating platform that's
capable of moving up to 110
tonnes from ship to shore. The
mexeflotes will be attached to the
side of the Largs Bay and can also
operate from the ship's well dock,"
Lt-Col Smith said.
"During its 2010 earthquake
relief operations in Haiti, the
RN found the mexeflotes were
extremely effective and efficient in
transporting stores and equipment
from ship to shore."
Between now and the end of the
year, the Largs Bay will go through
a regeneration refit and recertifica-
tion process in the UK.
Modifications will also be made
to its existing communications,
weapons and navigational systems
to ensure it meets the necessary
Amphibious capability: The Landing Ship Dock-class Largs Bay will enter service in Australia early next year to bridge the gap between the decommissioning of HMAS Manoora and
the introduction of the Landing Helicopter Dock-class ships.
Photo courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence
Humanitarian: The Largs Bay and mexeflotes were used extensively by the
Royal Navy in disaster relief operations after the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
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