Three more “Balikpapan” class LCHs (landing craft heavies) are scheduled to arrive and be commissioned in Philippine Navy (PN) service by the first quarter of 2016. These ships are the HMAS Balikpapan, HMAS Wewak and HMAS Betano. The Royal Australian Navy decommissioned these LCHs in November 2014.
The three are sisters to BRP Ivatan (formerly HMAS Tarakan) and BRP Batak (ex-HMAS Brunei) which were commissioned into PN service last Aug. 10. 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 humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
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.
Sources said that the three ships were acquired at their respective “salvage value” which is 10 to 15 percent of the actual value of the LCHs.