News

HMAS Labuan bids Ballina farewell after long friendship

YOUNG SKIPPER: Owen Hooper, 4, from Ballina takes over the captain’s seat on HMAS Labuan.
YOUNG SKIPPER: Owen Hooper, 4, from Ballina takes over the captain’s seat on HMAS Labuan. Andy Parks

AFTER a long and enduring friendship, HMAS Labuan will finally bid farewell to Ballina after a five day port visit on the ship's decommissioning voyage.

Four decades ago, Labuan came to the rescue of 12 men who had drifted off course in small wooden rafts during the Las Balsas Expedition from Ecuador to Mooloolaba.

A storm blew the rafts south where they were towed into the Richmond River by the Navy landing craft and two local fishermen.

It was the assistance of Labuan in 1973 that would help earn it a Freedom of Entry right in Ballina in 1988.

Three things you might not have known about HMAS Labuan:

  • HMAS Labuan is one of Navy's three remaining Balikpapan Class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) ships.
  • The LCH is a capable medium sea lift vessel and has been a workhorse for the Royal Australian Navy during many operations, exercises and training personnel.
  • Over their 40 years of service, the LCHs have provided an important sea lift capability. They've been the backbone of many deployments to the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and East Timor.

HMAS Labuan Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill said Freedom of Entry originated in medieval times, when a city would show its trust in a group of men-at-arms by allowing them to enter their walls with weapons.

"Many years ago, fortified towns would ask men of arms to surrender their weapons before they entered the town," he said.

"The privilege to Freedom of Entry shows that there's a special relationship with that military unit, that there's trust.

Neil Butler shared this sunset photo of HMAS Labuan on The Northern Star's Facebook page.
Neil Butler shared this sunset photo of HMAS Labuan on The Northern Star's Facebook page. Contributed

"We draw our swords and unfurl our colours and have a band playing as we march through, and the city trusts us and doesn't feel threatened by us."

The Freedom of Entry parade kicked off on Saturday at 10.30am on the corner of Moon and Fawcett Sts before moving onto River St and passing the Anzac Memorial and finishing at the Ballina RSL.

The ship's crew were joined on the march by members of the Ballina sub-branch of the Naval Association of Australia and cadets from Training Ship Lismore.

During the parade, the crew presented a framed Freedom of Entry scroll to Ballina Mayor David Wright and local police who inspected it and let them pass.

Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill said it was the third time the ship had visited Ballina and the crew were looking forward to their five day stay.

"This is the highlight of our whole trip," he said.

"We're going all the way down the east coast, all the way around the South Pacific and all anyone could talk about the last week was Ballina."

On Sunday, HMAS Labuan was open to the public. Despite the rain dozens of people queued up to inspect the ship which will be gifted to Papua New Guinea after being decommissioned.

Topics:  hmas labuan, las balsas, las balsas expedition




'Aggressive' great white shark knocks man off board

A 2.28m Great White is tagged by the Department of Primary Industries at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.

"It went under his SUP towards our son, then circled around."

New bar to transform Lismore CBD warehouse

GRAND PLANS: Plans to renovate warehouse into a live music venue

This venue aims to make international acts tour Lismore over Byron

Homeless man, 84, admitted to $1m hotel fire: Police

Greg Bird, the manager of the Australian Hotel in Ballina, checks over the extensive damage to the back bar and bistro area of the popular pub following a fire in the early hours of this morning, May 27. Photo: Graham Broadhead

Police say he admitted to starting the fire using cigarette lighter

Latest deals and offers

Kristen Bell's baby confession

Kristen Bell once pretended to be asleep when her baby woke up early

Have a Stoli Bolly and let's go darling!

THEY ARE BACK: Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Absolutely Fabulous, The Movie hits the screens

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Mum driver heroically ignores hilarious lip-syncing son

Hilarious moves while Mum concentrates on the road.

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, why aren't they driving?

Twitter adds dancing David Brent emoji

Ricky Gervais's character has its own emoji now

Start a conversation at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

IDEAS: The book Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner includes her essay on the insults of age.

You have a big chance to meet a number of authors

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started