HMAS Betano

HMAS Betano (L 133) was a Balikpapan-class heavy landing craft operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

HMAS Betano in June 2011
Builder: Walkers Limited
Laid down: September 1972
Launched: 5 December 1972
Commissioned: 8 February 1974
Decommissioned: 12 December 2012
Homeport: HMAS Coonawarra
Motto: "Bravely In Difficulties"
Honours and
Status: Awaiting disposal
General characteristics
Class and type: Balikpapan-class landing craft heavy
Displacement: 316 tons
Length: 44.5 m (146 ft)
Beam: 10.1 m (33 ft)
Propulsion: Two GE diesels
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Capacity: 180 tons of vehicle cargo or 400 soldiers
Complement: 13
Armament: 2 × 0.50 inch machine guns

Design and construction

The eight-vessel Balikpapan class was ordered as a locally manufactured replacement for the Australian Army's LSM-1-class landing ship medium and ALC 50 landing craft.[3] They are 44.5 metres (146 ft) long, with a beam of 10.1 metres (33 ft), and a draught of 1.9 metres (6 ft 3 in).[4] The landing craft have a standard displacement of 316 tons, with a full load displacement of 503 tons.[4] They are propelled by two G.M. Detroit 6-71 diesel motors, providing 675 brake horsepower to the two propeller shafts, allowing the vessels to reach 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph).[4] The standard ship's company is 13-strong.[4] The Balikpapans are equipped with a Decca RM 916 navigational radar, and fitted with two 7.62 millimetres (0.300 in) machine guns for self-defence.[4]

The LCHs have a maximum payload of 180 tons; equivalent to 3 Leopard 1 tanks, 13 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 23 quarter-tonne trucks, or four LARC-V amphibious cargo vehicles.[4][5] As a troop transport, a Balikpapan-class vessel can transport up to 400 soldiers between a larger amphibious ship and the shore, or embark 60 soldiers[6] in six-berth caravans for longer voyages.[5] The vessel's payload affects the range: at 175 tons of cargo, each vessel has a range of 1,300 nautical miles (2,400 km; 1,500 mi), which increases to 2,280 nautical miles (4,220 km; 2,620 mi) with a 150-ton payload, and 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) when unladen.[4] The flat, box-like keel causes the ships to roll considerably in other-than-calm conditions, limiting their ability to make long voyages.[5]

Betano was laid down by Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland on 3 October 1972, launched on 12 December 1972, and commissioned into the RAN on 8 February 1974.[7]

Operational history

In April 1974, Betano, Buna, and Brunei transited to Lord Howe Island as a demonstration of the Balikpanan class' oceangoing capabilities.[8]

Following the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy during the night of 24–25 December 1974, Betano was deployed as part of the relief effort; Operation Navy Help Darwin.[9] Betano sailed from Brisbane on 26 December.[9]

From 1985 to 1988, Betano and Brunei were assigned to the Australian Hydrographic Officer and operated as survey ships in the waters of northern Australia and Papua New Guinea.[8]

The ship was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce from 19 January to 19 February 2000.[10] Her service earned her the battle honour "East Timor 2000".[1][2]

Decommissioning and fate

Betano was decommissioned at Darwin on 12 December 2012.[11][12] The Philippine Navy has shown interest in acquiring the ship after the Australian government donated two sister ships, HMAS Brunei and HMAS Tarakan in 2015.[13][14] It was later confirmed that the Philippine Navy will acquire three more LCHs from Australia, including ex-HMAS Betano, at a token price.[15]


  1. "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  2. "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours" (PDF). Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  3. Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946, pp. 79, 125
  4. Wertheim (ed.), The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, p. 26
  5. Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946, p. 79
  6. "Amphibious Manoeuvre Operations". Semaphore. August 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  7. Swinden, Heavy Lifting for Four Decades, p. 20
  8. Swinden, Heavy Lifting for Four Decades, p. 22
  9. Sea Power Centre, Disaster Relief
  10. Stevens, Strength Through Diversity, p. 15
  11. "HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano decommissioned". Royal Australian Navy. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  12. "HMAS Betano". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  13. "Australia to donate heavy landing craft to Philippines". IHS Jane's 360. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  14. "Philippines edges closer to Australian landing craft procurement". IHS Jane's 360. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  15. "Australia confirms Philippines' acquisition of three ex-RAN landing craft". IHS Jane's 360. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.



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