The Australian Ministry of Defence says it is moving forward with the purchase of the ex-UK amphibious landing dock ship Largs Bay after completing sea trials. The vessel will be delivered early next year.
The Australian government announced on April 6 that Australia had been successful in its bid to acquire the Largs Bay at a cost of £65 million (approximately A$100 million).
Australia has now signed a Letter of Intent with the UK Government and the first two payments of £22 million each (or A$66 million in total) have been made on the ship, the Australian ministry of defence announced.
A sea-trial of the ship has also been conducted. The trial was conducted in two phases – a harbour phase (April 11-17) followed by the at-sea phase (April 18-19). The defence department’s final report on the sea-trial confirms that the ship is in good material state.
International shipping firm, Teekay Shipping Australia, thoroughly inspected the ship prior to the submission of Australia’s bid and found that “the ship presents very well, and from a technical point of view, there are no major defects.”
Teekay was also engaged on the sea trial and have provided an updated report that confirms their previous assessment.
The Australian government will now give consideration to what modifications are necessary for Australian use of Largs Bay, with such work on the ship subject to government approval.
The ship remains on track to arrive in Australia by the end of the year in time for it to be operational in Australia in early 2012.
Largs Bay is a Bay class landing ship dock ship that was commissioned by the U.K. Ministry of Defence in 2006. The vessel was built by Swan Hunter in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, northern England and named after Largs Bay in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in November 2006 and patrolled the seas around the British south Atlantic colony the Falkland Islands in 2008.
The vessel weighs 16,000 tons and is about 577 feet long and 85 feet wide. Its flight deck has room for two large helicopters as well as around 150 light trucks and 350 troops. It was marked as one of the vessels to be removed from service under the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review in an effort to cut costs.
The Largs Bay will operate alongside the navy’s two Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock ships now under construction — the Canberra and the Adelaide.