Marking 40 years since she and her sisters, HMA Ships Brunei and Buna, last retracted, HMAS Labuan has beached at the exact place of their last mission at Lord Howe Island.
Now on her decommissioning voyage, the Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) sailed into the Prince William Henry Bay on Sunday 9 August.
Labuan’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill said it was great to see such support for Navy from a small community.
“We were expecting the local police sergeant on the beach; however, we were pleasantly surprised by the large turnout of locals,” Lieutenant Cockerill said.
Labuan’s last ever drying-out routine under an Austalian White Ensign allowed the small community a rare, up-close look at an Australian warship.
The arrival of the LCHs in 1974 was a significant event for Lord Howe Island. The ships, along with a Squadron from the Royal Australian Army Corps of Engineers assisted in the construction of the Island’s airport. The unique capability of the LCH enabled the transportation of essential equipment to an island with no deep water berths.
During the recent three day visit, the ship’s companies of Labuan and Tarakan explored the island’s pristine beaches, rugged tracks and inspiring mountains.
Both ships are now en route to New Caledonia to participate in Exercise CROIX DU SUD. All three remaining LCHs will decommission in late 2014.
HMAS Buna was decomissioned in 1974 and transfered to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.