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A FOUR-way bidding contest for Geordie warship Largs [..]; Four nations bidding for last vessel built on the Tyne.

Byline: ALASTAIR CRAIG

A FOUR-way bidding contest for Geordie warship Largs Bay will reach a conclusion next week.

The governments of Australia, Brazil, India and Chile are now showing firm interest in buying the decommissioned troop and supplier carrier.

The 580ft Largs Bay is one of a number of ships axed in a Government cost-cutting programme announced last year.

In January, the Chronicle told how Aussie defence chiefs had travelled to the UK to inspect the vessel with a view to saving it from the breaker's yard.

The Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said his department was considering a bid for the RFA Largs Bay for his country's navy.

The vessel is capable of providing a landing spot for helicopters, as well as being able to carry dozens of vehicles and hundreds of troops.

Largs Bay was built by the Swan Hunter yard in Wallsend and launched for sea trials in November 2006, sailing into history as the last full vessel built on the Tyne.

Bidding is due to close a week today, with results announced in mid-April.

Mr Smith used an official trip to Europe this week to pursue the lease of Largs Bay to the Royal Australian Navy.

He was is in Brussels for a NATO meeting of defence ministers, but also visited London and the south coast before returning to Australia today.

The Australian government showed the first interest in taking on Largs Bay as a stop-gap until new warships are completed in 2014.

The country's fleet currently includes HMAS Manoora, which is to be taken out of service, HMAS Kanimbla which is undergoing a refit until mid-2012 and HMAS Tobruk, said to be in a poor state of repair. Largs Bay is due leave service in April following the coalition government's Strategic Defence and Security Review.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 10, 2011
Words:300
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