HMAS Betano in June 2011
|Laid down:||September 1972|
|Launched:||5 December 1972|
|Commissioned:||8 February 1974|
|Decommissioned:||12 December 2012|
|Motto:||"Bravely In Difficulties"|
|Class and type:||Balikpapan-class landing craft heavy|
|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|
|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. 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). The landing craft have a standard displacement of 316 tons, with a full load displacement of 503 tons. 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). The standard ship's company is 13-strong. 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.
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. 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 in six-berth caravans for longer voyages. 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. The flat, box-like keel causes the ships to roll considerably in other-than-calm conditions, limiting their ability to make long voyages.
In April 1974, Betano, Buna, and Brunei transited to Lord Howe Island as a demonstration of the Balikpanan class' oceangoing capabilities.
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. Betano sailed from Brisbane on 26 December.
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.
Decommissioning and fate
Betano was decommissioned at Darwin on 12 December 2012. 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. It was later confirmed that the Philippine Navy will acquire three more LCHs from Australia, including ex-HMAS Betano, at a token price.
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