Ex-Army amphibious landing craft have been given a new lease on life at the Australian Antarctic Division.
Eight Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) vehicles were purchased from the Australian Army recently and two have undergone a $100 000 overhaul for subantarctic service.
The amphibious vehicles will be used for ship-to-shore transfer of cargo and passengers and, unlike helicopters or jet barges, will be able to operate in the inclement weather conditions common around Macquarie and Heard islands.
'LARCs can make surf landings in all types of weather, unlike jet barges, which are unable to get close to shore in rough seas,' says Australian Antarctic Division shipping officer, Mick Davidson.
The two LARCs will be deployed at Macquarie Island this season for twice the usual ship-to-shore capacity, and one vehicle will remain on the island over winter. Another two LARCs are expected to be similarly refitted, while the remaining four will be used for parts. The fleet will also be used in Antarctica in the future.The Australian Antarctic Division has used LARCs and crew from the Australian Army and P&O Maritime Services for its resupply missions in the past (at an annual cost of $50–100 000), but this is the first time the vehicles will be owned and operated by the Division. The vehicles are expected to have a service life of up to 12 years and cost $5000 annually to maintain; a significant saving on previous years.
LARCs were originally developed by the United States Army in the 1960s and used to ferry supplies from ship to shore.
Corporate Communications, AAD