HMAS Labuan’s link to Ballina acknowledged
THE ship is no longer in service with the Royal Australian Navy, but Ballina's connection with the Labuan has been acknowledged.
The Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum late last year was given on long-term loan the ceremonial life ring of the former HMAS Labuan, with the promise of the ship's bell also coming to the museum.
The decommissioning commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Christopher Cockerill, personally delivered the ceremonial life ring.
Meanwhile, the museum has received a letter from Captain J P McCormack, chief of staff to the Chief of Navy, advising that the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, has agreed to the ship's bell being provided to the museum on long-term loan.
Capt McCormack writes that Vice Admiral Barrett agreed to the loan "in acknowledgement of the ship's association with Ballina".
Museum curator Ron Creber said the effort to get the bell was one of the last things former president, the late Clem MacMahon, did before passing away.
He said it was fairly rare for the navy to hand over a ceremonial life ring and bell, but the fact the navy had agreed to loan both from the Labuan to the Ballina museum was recognition of the museum's reputation.
The Labuan's connection with Ballina began in 1973 when it helped the crews of the Las Balsas three-raft expedition when they arrived in Ballina on their ocean voyage from Ecuador.
Since then, the Labuan has returned to Ballina several times and was awarded Freedom of Entry to the town in 1988.
The crew exercised that right in the ship's final visit to town in August last year, before embarking on its final mission and its decommissioning from the navy late last year.
The landing craft was transferred to Papua New Guinea.
HMAS Labuan (II) was commissioned into the RAN on March 9, 1973, at Walkers Shipyard, Maryborough, having been accepted from the army earlier in the day.