- Balikpapan class landing craft heavy
The "Balikpapan" class LCH (Landing Craft, Heavy) were originally a class of eight vessels built for the
Australian Army. Today the Royal Australian Navy(RAN) operates six vessels of this class, all the ships in the class having been transferred to the RAN while they were still under construction. The remaining two ships were transferred to the fledgling Papua New Guinea Defence Force(PNGDF) in 1975, when Papua New Guineagained its independence. [cite book |last=Frame |first=Tom |authorlink=Tom Frame (bishop) |title=No Pleasure Cruise: the story of the Royal Australian Navy |year=2004 |publisher=Allen & Unwin |location=Crows Nest |isbn=1-74114-233-4 |pages=p 261]
The class is named after the prototype of the class HMAS "Balikpapan", which is named after the city of
Balikpapanin East Kalimantanon the island of Borneo, the site of an amphibious assault carried out by the 7th Australian Division during World War II. All vessels in the class are named after places in the Pacificregion where the Australian Army fought with the support of the RAN during World War II.
The remaining six Australian vessels are in full commission in the RAN as of 2008. They are based at HMAS "Cairns" in
Cairns, Queensland(four ships) and HMAS "Coonawarra" in Darwin, Northern Territory(two ships). At one stage in the 1990s, HMAS "Wewak" was laid up in mothballed status on a slip in Cairns.
The "Balikpapan" class landing craft are capable of making oceanic voyages in moderate sea states and can mate their bow ramp to the stern loading dock of the RAN's three large amphibious warfare ships (HMA Ships "Tobruk", "Kanimbla", and "Manoora") when operating in the ship to shore role.
The "Balikpapan" class landing craft are used for tactical beach lodgement, and can carry up to 180 tonnes of cargo. Indicative maximum loads include:
Leopard 1tanks; or
M-113armoured personnel carriers; or
* 23 quarter tonne trucks; or
* 400 fully equipped soldiers on short ship to shore voyages; or
* 60 soldiers on longer voyages.
A typical load of 175 tonnes gives the LCH a range of convert|1300|nmi|km, increasing to convert|2280|nmi|km.
As the ships are only lightly armed, they require escort in hostile or potentially hostile waters.
* [http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/Landing_Craft_Heavy Royal Australian Navy web page on "Balikpapan" class]
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