Royal Australian Navy to Name HMAS Choules


At Fleet Base West the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence announced that the ex Royal Fleet Auxilliary Landing Ship Dock Largs Bay is to commission into the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Choules.

Many of you will recall that former Chief Petty Officer Claude Choules passed away in May of this year, our centenary year. He died in Perth at the age of 110. This was a significant moment when the world lost its last living link with those who had served in WW1.

Claude Choules​ was born in England two days after the birth of Australia’s Navy in March 1901. Like the ship that will bear his name, Claude started his Naval service in the Royal Navy, in his case in 1916. He came to Australia on loan in 1926 and soon decided to transfer to the RAN. He was a member of the commissioning crew of HMAS Canberra (I) in 1928 and in 1932 became a Chief Petty Officer Torpedo and Anti Submarine instructor.

During WW2 Claude was the acting Torpedo Officer in Fremantle and the Chief Demolition Officer on the west coast. He transferred to the Naval Dockyard Police after the war so that he could continue to serve, He finally retired in 1956.

In thinking about our past during our centenary year I have been struck by the stories of the tens of thousands of everyday Australians who have made the Navy what it is today. While we honour individual acts of heroism, these others also deserve some form of recognition for their service. In naming the ship after Claude Choules we not only acknowledge his forty years of service in peace and war but the contribution of all who have faced the unremitting hazards of the sea and the challenges of conflict in the last century. The naval service demands endurance and self-sacrifice and, by its nature, much goes unseen. The Navy’s history has included many fierce battles but it is also marked by the patient and devoted patrol, surveillance and escort work which has ensured that Australia and its allies have been able to use the sea to achieve victory. Our sailors past and present have gone about the vital work that we do without fuss or fanfare, often in extreme danger, generally under less than ideal conditions but always with their own unique combination of humour and devotion to duty. Claude Choules, as much as any, epitomises this tradition.

The pennant number of HMAS Choules will be L100, further reinforcing the link to the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy and those who have served in it throughout our history. HMAS Choules will be an exceptional addition to the fleet. The ship will commission in Australia later this year.

Source: navy, August 15, 2011;