The first ship into the $177 million International Cruise Terminal of Brisbane (Queensland Australia) should have been P&O Australia's 245-m-long Pacific Dawn (now Ambassador Ambience) on October 3, 2020.
Instead, the first vessel to dock at the Brisbane International Cruise Ship Terminal is the Navy’s HMAS Choules, which is in Port Brisbane until Wednesday, September 1, after work in Cairns and Townsville QLD.
This was the ship and crew that rescued thousands of Australians crowded onto Victoria’s Mallacoota beach threatened by bushfires early January 2020.
The 16,000 GT HMAS Choules is 24 m wide, 176 m long, classed as an amphibious Landing Ship Dock, and commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy back in December 2011.
HMAS Choules docked in Brisbane Australia just before midday on Friday, August 27, and by early afternoon her 158 crew began a weekend’s shore leave.
The Brisbane International Cruise Terminal looks like an airport arrival/destination terminal, with full-length windows and a high-pitched, sloping roof. Portside will continue to dock smaller-to-medium cruise ships. Anything 270+ metres will dock at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.
HMAS Choules docked at the Terminal because there were no alternative docking locations available. She is a multi-purpose Navy landing platform, able to carry up to 700 troops, 150 light trucks, and 23 Abrams tanks.
HMAS Choules ferried thousands stranded by Mallacoota bushfires in Victoria in January last year. The vessel is also a specialist mobile landing base for Navy helicopters such as the MRH-90 Taipan and MH-60R Seahawk and Australian Army’s S-70A Black Hawk, with a flight deck that can accommodate 2 large choppers. Between March 2013-April 2014 it clocked up 1000 deck landings of Blackhawks, Seahawk, and MRH-90 helicopters.
HMAS Choules departed her home port Garden Island WA in Sydney Australia in mid-June. Following the visit to the port of Brisbane, the ship and her crew will sail back to Sydney.