27 Oktober 2015
The Forgacs-built landing craft, VOEA Late, which has been donated by the Australian government to Tonga. (photo : Aus DoD)
The Kingdom of Tonga has inducted a new Australian-built landing craft, the country's Ministry of Information and Communications confirmed to IHS Jane's on 26 October.
The vessel, which has been named VOEA Late (pennant number A401), was donated in an arrangement, understood to be worth approximately AUD5 million (USD3.6 million), with the Australian Department of Defence (DoD). The deal was announced in May 2014, and IHS Jane's reported in September that the landing craft was undertaking final sea trials ahead of delivery.
A ministry spokesperson told IHS Jane's that the vessel was commissioned on 23 October.
According to specifications provided by the vessel's shipbuilder, Forgacs Engineering, Late has an overall length of 30.4 m and a beam of 8 m. The steel-hulled vessel has a top speed of 10 kt and a cruising speed of 8 kt. Late can accommodate six crew members and has deck space capacity for up to four 20 ft ISO shipping containers with approximately 295 dwt.
Besides the transportation of stores, personnel, and military vehicles of up to 85 tonnes, the vessel can be used for emergency towing. The vessel "will also allow Tonga to participate in regional disaster relief operations, such as the response effort following Cyclone Pam in March this year when a Tongan patrol boat was one of the first assets to assist Vanuatu", said the Australian DoD in an August statement issued during a visit by Tonga's chief of defence staff, Tonga Brigadier Lord Fielakepa, to the Forgacs shipyard in Newcastle, Australia. The visit was timed to coincide with the vessel's sea trials.