HMAS Salamaua (L 131)

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Career (Australia)
Namesake: Island of Salamaua
Builder: Walkers Limited
Laid down: 29 May 1972
Launched: 27 July 1972
Commissioned: 19 October 1973
Decommissioned: 14 November 1974
Fate: Transferred to Papua New Guinea Defence Force
Career (Papua New Guinea)
Acquired: 14 November 1974
Status: Active as of 2013
General characteristics
Class & 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: two 0.50 inch machine guns

HMAS Salamaua (L 131) was a Balikpapan class landing craft heavy of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The vessel was transferred to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in November 1974.

Design and construction[edit]

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.[1] 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).[2] The landing craft have a standard displacement of 316 tons, with a full load displacement of 503 tons.[2] 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).[2] The standard ship's company is 13-strong.[2] 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.[2]

The LCHs have a maximum payload of 180 tons; equivalent to 3 Leopard 1 tanks, 13 M113 armored personnel carriers 23 quarter-tonne trucks, or four LARC-V amphibious cargo vehicles.[2][3] As a troop transport, a Balikpapan class vessel can transport up to 400 soldiers between a larger amphibious ship and the shore,[citation needed] or embark 60 soldiers[citation needed] in six-berth caravans for longer voyages.[3] 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.[2] The flat, box-like keel causes the ships to roll considerably in other-than-calm conditions, limiting their ability to make long voyages.[3]

Salamaua was laid down Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland on 29 May 1972, launched on 27 July 1972, and commissioned into the RAN on 19 October 1973.[4]

Operational history[edit]

Salamaua was transferred to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force on 14 November 1974.[3] She is in active service as of 2013.[5]


  1. ^ Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946, pgs 79, 125
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wertheim (ed.), The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, p. 26
  3. ^ a b c d Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships since 1946, p. 79
  4. ^ Swinden, Heavy Lifting for Four Decades, p. 20
  5. ^ Swinden, Heavy Lifting for Four Decades, p. 21


Journal articles
  • Swinden, Greg (April 2013). "Heavy Lifting for Four Decades: The Navy's Landing Craft Heavy". The Navy (Navy League of Australia) 75 (2): 20–24. ISSN 1322-6231.