HMAS Labuan Pays Final Visit to Ballina

Royal Australian Navy Ship, HMAS Labuan has exercised her right to Freedom of Entry one last time in the New South Wales town of Ballina.

 

The Balikpapan class landing ship, which has been linked to the township since the 1970s, will be decommissioned later this year along with sister ships Tarakan and Brunei.

Commanding Officer of Labuan Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill said a final visit to Ballina was important to thank the community for their support over the past 40 years.

“Labuan has long been connected with Ballina which is why it was so important to include a port visit here as a part of our decommissioning voyage.” Lieutenant Cockerill said.

Labuan was first granted Freedom of Entry to Ballina in 1988 in recognition for the role she played in the arrival of Las Balsas in 1973.

The landing craft assisted the two balsa wood rafts and the crews when they were blown off course while completing a voyage from South America to Australia.

During the five day port visit Labuan ship’s company hosted a ship’s open day for the local community and a number of regional cadet units.

“On Saturday afternoon alone we welcomed cadets from a number of Australian Navy Cadet units from Northern NSW and South East Queensland,” Lieutenant Cockerill said.

“The visit was a great opportunity for the cadets to explore a Navy vessel and for ship’s company to impart their experiences of life at sea.”

Labuan’s decommissioning voyage, conducted in company with sister ship Tarakan will include port visits to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Noumea and the Solomon Islands. Both vessels will also participate in Exercise CROIX DU SUD following their visit to Noumea.

The final three LCHs Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan will be paid off together in a ceremony at HMAS Cairns later this year ending 40 years of service in the RAN.

Press Release, August 12, 2014; Image: Australian Navy

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