The last three LCHs (landing craft heavies), out of the five pledged by the Australian Government to the Philippines, have finally arrived in Liloan, Cebu City last March 26.
This was announced by Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in an interview Monday.
The ships were transported aboard a cargo vessel of the NTG Shipping. Two of the LCHs were picked up in Darwin and another one in Cairns, Australia.
The LCHs were off-loaded in Liloan, Cebu 10: 30 a.m. last March 26.
Lincuna said the vessels will be moved from Cebu to the PN shipyard in Sangley Point, Cavite by mid-May, in time for the Navy's 118th founding anniversary.
The LCHs are former ships of the Royal Australian Navy and identified as the HMAS Balikpapan (L-126), HMAS Wewak (L-130) and HMAS Betano (L-133).
The three are sisters to BRP Ivatan (formerly HMAS Tarakan) and BRP Batak (ex-HMAS Brunei) which were commissioned into PN service last August 10, 2015.
The first two LCHs were donated by the Australian Government to the Philippines in November 2014.
The three were sold for the "friendship price "of PHP270 million.
"With their capability of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment, these vessels will bolster the PN's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR). They will also be useful in transporting troops from one operational area to another especially during amphibious operations," Lincuna stressed.
Correspondingly, the PN initiated necessary preparations and other training activities last year to ensure the competent crewing of these ships which will be validated once they assume their posts.
The operational readiness training is deemed to be dynamic and adaptable to changes. At present, more or less 30 PN personnel are assigned aboardship while the vessel will undergo minor repairs and refurbishment, including the fitting of .50 caliber machine guns as defensive weaponry.
"The acquisition of additional capabilities of our Navy further translates into offering better service to our maritime nation as we continue to protect our country, step up commitment for HADR and our continuing pledge to provide assistance to our Filipino people in all corners of the archipelago. These new assets are manifestations of our Navy’s optimum readiness to perform its tasks and the ability to adapt vis-a-vis the emergent operating environment," he added.
LCHs are an extremely versatile vessel, capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore.
A very shallow draft (two meters) allows these ships to deliver personnel and equipment to areas otherwise unreachable especially during HADR missions.
It is an all-welded twin-screw vessel, able to trans-ship cargo and supplies from ships lying offshore to water terminals or across the beach.
Maximum cargo load is governed by the load-fuel balance and varies between 140 and 180 tons.
A typical load of 175 ton gives the LCHs a range of 1,300 nautical miles, increasing to 2,280 nautical miles for a load of 150 tons.
Up to five shipping containers with HADR supplies and equipment can also be embarked.
LCHs have a draft of two meters, length of 44.5 meters, beam of 10.1 meters and displacement of 364 tons.
It has a speed to 10 to 13 knots and a range of 3,000 nautical miles and a crew of 15.