After nearly 40 years of essential service to communities in Australia and the Pacific, the Royal Australian Navy’s three remaining Landing Craft, Heavy (LCH) have been farewelled at HMAS Cairns.
Representing the Prime Minister, Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert watched the Australian White Ensign being lowered on HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan at sunset, marking the end of their service life.
Mr Robert said it was a significant day for Navy and acknowledged the ships’ proud history of providing essential logistic support to operations.
“Between them Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan have seen more than 120 years of service moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore, often to areas that would otherwise be unreachable,” Mr Robert said.
“The Balikpapan Class vessels will be replaced by six new heavy landing craft that will have improved ocean going capabilities and be able to transport armoured vehicles, trucks, stores and personnel.”
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN, and Head of Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell, CSC, RAN, along with a number of current and former personnel, were also present at the traditional decommissioning ceremony.
During their many years of service, the Balikpapan Class supported numerous operations and exercises in the Australian national interest. RADM Mayer said this important contribution had been done with silent professionalism, beyond the view of many in our nation.
“The landing craft have an operational service history that is virtually unparalleled. Their versatility as a medium sea lift vessel saw them provide much of the logistics support to Australian Defence Force operations in Bougainville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
“They also supported Operation RESOLUTE, and in Australia’s time of need, were deployed to help in the aftermath of Cyclones Yasi and Tracy,” RADM Mayer said.
Commanding Officer Labuan, Lieutenant Chris Cockerill said the vessels have also been fantastic ships for the crews.
“My name is the final in a very long list of Commanding Officers of Labuan – this is truly the end of an era for Navy. While it is sad to see the old warships go, this is a proud day as we reflect on all we have achieved. It is also exciting as we look forward to serving on the Canberra Class,” LEUT Cockerill said.
Following the decommissioning, Labuan will be gifted to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element.
File vision of the vessels has been fed to the Parliamentary Press Gallery today.
Imagery of the ceremony will be available post event at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143526
Archive imagery can be located by searching “LCH” in the Defence Image Gallery.
Richard Briedis (Minister Robert's Office) (02) 6277 7730 or 0477 391 174
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999