The Philippine Navy is set to commission two Balikpapan-class landing craft heavy (LCH) vessels from Australia, strengthening the country’s naval capabilities.
The Royal Australian Navy delivered the decommissioned vessels, HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Brunei, to the Philippines in a bid to support the country’s defence modernisation programme.
These refurbished landing crafts will increase the navy’s capability to transport personnel, equipment, and aid during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
In addition, these vessels can be used to transport troops from one operational area to another.
Philippine Fleet commander rear admiral Leopoldo M Alano said: "The capability we are very proud to welcome today is described as extremely versatile vessels, capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment.
"These new assets will be vital in facilitating and sustaining fleet-marine operations and will bolster the amphibious and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities of the PN."
These vessels will operate with the Philippine Navy as BRP Ivatan (AT298) and BRP Batak (AT299). These 44.5m LCHs can cruise at a maximum speed of 10k to 13k, carrying 180t of cargo.
Tarakan and Brunei landing craft served the Australian Defence Force operations for more than 40 years, covering various humanitarian aid missions in Bougainville, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.
The fleet was decommissioned from the Australian service on 19 November 2014.
The Philippine Government is also considering purchase of the remaining three Australian landing crafts, the former Wewak, Betano and Balikpapan, which were decommissioned in 2012.
Image: The arrival of two Balikpapan-class landing craft heavy vessels will deliver additional intra-theatre sealift capability. Photo: courtesy of the Philippine Navy.