Atlantic & Peninsula Australia installed the Visual Landing Aid System (VLAS) on HMAS Choules during its Annual Certification Period 2020 (ACP20) at Fleet Base East, Sydney.

VLAS is the lighting arrangement that helps Helicopter pilots to understand the pitch and roll of the vessel as well as the boundary of the flight deck and is essential to safe operations day and night, in the most extreme and challenging weather conditions.

Sixty-five Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible lights and almost 6km of ethernet, power and fibreoptic cables were used to install the system during the vessel’s maintenance period in a programme which spanned 8 weeks from March to May 2020.

As HMAS Choules’ ships dock is situated directly beneath the flight deck, Atlantic & Peninsula Australia had to coordinate a sophisticated scaffold build to facilitate the steelwork modifications required to remove the old system and install the new state of the art system. As part of the install, Atlantic & Peninsula Australia also managed a large number of stakeholders to ensure the lighting configuration met the stringent fleet aviation requirements of the Royal Australian Navy.

Martin Mitchell, Operations Manager of Atlantic & Peninsula Australia said: “This install was technically challenging throughout what was already a busy Annual Certification Period with nearly 800 concurrent tasks taking place. Its success is testament to the team’s expertise, careful planning, tenacity and attention to detail. It called on a multi-disciplinary team to ensure we had a precision fit for alignment and orientation. The system also had to be integrated with the ship’s emergency power and controls network, and used the ship’s fibre-optic network to transfer the control signals from the bridge to the flight deck at the stern of the ship.”

Scott Willey, Managing Director of Atlantic & Peninsula Australia said: “The VLAS installation is one of the higher profile taskings under an ongoing Capability Assurance Program (CAP) being conducted on HMAS Choules and we have been working with the equipment suppliers, our design partners and Defence for over 18-months to prepare for the installation. Originally scheduled for 2021, Defence made the decision in late 2019 to extend ACP20 to allow for the full scope of the VLAS installation. Bringing the install forward has worked extremely well to deconflict other work, as well as de-risk the Refit Period in 2021 when the other major CAP upgrades are planned, this is a great demonstration of effective collaboration between Defence and Industry for the support of HMAS Choules.”

Atlantic & Peninsula Australia provides ongoing maintenance and engineering support to HMAS Choules as part of an In Service Support contract with the Department of Defence.

Atlantic & Peninsula Australia specialises in marine platform through-life and in-service support as well as planning, managing and supervising ship repair and engineering activities and the facilitation of ship’s company training. 

Atlantic & Peninsula Australia is owned by Atlantic & Peninsula Marine Services which also owns A&P Group. A&P Group operates the largest commercial ship repair, conversion and marine services facility in the UK.  Operating seven dry docks across three strategic locations in the UK, A&P Group has a proud history of quality driven engineering excellence spanning six decades.  Renowned for its highly skilled workforce, first class waterfront engineering infrastructure and being a partner of choice for customers, A&P Group delivers contracts for the marine, defence, offshore and energy industries.