Storm over ship break-down
11:16am Wednesday 27th June 2012 in In Port
The Royal Australian Naval vessel HMAS Choules, the former Royal Fleet Auxiliary Largs Bay which underwent a refit in Falmouth last year, is now at the centre of a political storm in Australia after breaking down on her way to a military exercise.
A defect occurred on one of the six transformers which form part of the ship’s propulsion system. The 16,000-tonne Choules was steaming north from Sydney Harbour to an amphibious exercise off Shoalwater Bay training area in Queensland when she lost half her electrical power.
The navy said it had been advised by the ship's previous operator, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, that the defect was "very unusual".
Politicians are demanding to know why Australia’s amphibious fleet is out of action undergoing repairs.
Surrounded by a posse of tugs Largs Bay was unceremoniously brought into Falmouth in 2007 when she arrived from Plymouth under tow by the Italian salvage tug Cabo Magno.
The multi-million pound vessel, which entered service less than four months earlier lost engine power and steering after an engine room fire off the Isles of Scilly on March 3, then three days later during storm force 10 winds off the Eddystone, the ship suffered reduced power and restricted steering.