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Bay-class amphibious ship handed over to Australia

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The Largs Bay ship.

FALMOUTH DOCKYARD, UK (BNS): UK Royal Navy's Bay-class amphibious ship, Largs Bay, has been officially handed over to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The vessel, which Australia is acquiring from the UK at a cost of £65 million (appx $100 million), was formally handed over to the ADF at Falmouth Dockyard in the UK, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced on Tuesday.

The ship will set sail for Australia next month and arrive at Western Australia in mid-December where it will be officially commissioned as HMAS Choules.

The landing ship dock, which was part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, was commissioned into service in 2006. It became surplus to the Navy's requirements as a result of UK Government's 2010 Defence Strategic Review.

Australia had put forth a bid to acquire the logistics ship from the UK Government in January 2011 and confirmed the successful acquisition in April.

The 16,000-ton, 176 meters long and 26 meters wide Largs Bay can accommodate two large helicopters at its flight deck. It can also carry around 150 light trucks and 350 troops. Its cargo capacity is equivalent to the Royal Australian Navy's entire amphibious fleet.

The acquisition of the ship will help ensure that the Royal Australian Navy has the amphibious capability it needs for operation and humanitarian support in our region in the period leading up to the arrival of the Landing Helicopter Dock Ships, the Australian Defence Ministry said.

The ship is expected to be operational by 2012.

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