The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) landing ship, HMAS Choules (L100) has arrived in Picton in New Zealand’s South Island to participate in Exercise Southern Katipo.
Choules arrived at Picton only a week after supporting the people of Vanuatu as part of the evacuation of Ambae Island under threat of a volcanic eruption.
The ship has delivered a combined force of 150 soldiers and marines from Australia and Tonga as part of the exercise.
As part of the exercise scenario, Choules was approached by role-playing protestors in small boats during her transit through the Marlborough Sounds to the wharf at Picton, negotiating the arrival assisted by HMNZS Wellington and a Kiwi Navy Seasprite helicopter.
Soldiers from the New Zealand Army provided security detail on the wharf so that Choules could safely come alongside and land six Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, a number of Unimog trucks and G-Wagons, as well as troops from both the Australian Army’s 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and the Royal Tongan Marines.
Commanding Officer Choules, Commander Dave Graham said the exercise provided the ship’s company with another good opportunity to test their interoperability with Australia’s neighbours in the south-west Pacific.
The troops landed ashore by Choules joined a 13-nation coalition force in the field where the exercise scenario centres on an international assistance mission. The biennial exercise is the largest coalition and joint exercise conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force.
HMAS Choules (L100) is a Bay-class landing ship that served with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) from 2006 to 2011, before being transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Royal Australian Navy