Australia to donate two landing craft vessels to Philippine Navy
The Australian Government is set to donate two recently decommissioned Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft (LCH) vessels to the Philippine Navy.
Along with the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Brunei craft, which will be refurbished with the latest safety and navigation equipment, the Philippines will also receive a spare parts package.
Australia Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said: "I expect the vessels will be refitted and ready for hand over in May.
"The landing craft will greatly improve the Philippines' ability to respond to natural disasters by enabling heavy equipment and large amounts of aid to be moved to affected areas."
The vessels can deliver personnel and equipment to areas that are considered to be unreachable during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
Upon being commissioned, the vessels will provide the navy with additional intra-theatre sealift potential, a lack of which hampered assistance following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
The 44.5m LCHs cruise at a maximum speed of 10k to 13k, carrying 180t of cargo.
The Philippines is also considering whether to purchase an additional three decommissioned LCHs from Australia.