Australia gives Philippines two naval landing craft

Australia gives Philippines two naval landing craft

MANILA - Australia is donating two decommissioned military landing craft to the Philippines after the archipelago struggled with relief efforts following Super Typhoon Haiyan, it was announced Sunday.

The vessels, which were decommissioned in November, will be refurbished with modern safety and navigation equipment before being handed over.

"I expect the vessels will be refitted and ready for handover in May 2015," Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said in a statement released by his country's embassy.

The two 44.5m-long craft, which are designed to carry heavy supplies, will be given to the Philippine Navy to help with humanitarian assistance and relief work.

The Philippines struggled because of a shortage of such vessels during relief operations after Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded on land, which decimated whole towns and villages in November 2013.

The Australian military, including the amphibious vessel HMAS Tobruk, were dispatched to help victims of the storm, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

The Philippine military is also considering whether to purchase three other surplus Australian landing craft that were decommissioned in 2012, the embassy added.

The poorly-equipped Philippine military is one of the weakest in the region and the government is looking to foreign allies to help bolster its resources.

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