IT'S a sight to behold and one that has drawn inquisitive crowds to Coffs Harbour's South Wall today.  

Government humanitarian vessel Ocean Shield is stationed off the harbour as the crew completes navigational anchoring drills.

Brought into the Royal Australian Navy fleet in June, Ocean Shield is 105-metres long, 21-metres wide, weighs 6,500 tonnes.

It can accomodates a crew of up to 100 and is fitted with a heli-pad.

For one of the current crew members Andrew Profke the voyage from Brisbane to Sydney today offered a brief homecoming of sorts.

Andrew met with his family this morning, while staging navigating marking from the South Wall.

Andrew and a ground base crew helped the captain of the vessel to fix the ship's positioning at sea using global positioning systems instead of an anchor.  

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith said Defence took ownership of the vessel after extensive sea trials, overseen by international shipping firm Teekay Shipping.

"Ocean Shield will primarily be used to transport troops and supplies in support of humanitarian and disaster relief operations," Mr Smith said.

He said Ocean Shield can be made operational 48 hours after a disaster in the Asian Pacific Rim.



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