Bravely In Action
Walkers Ltd, Maryborough Queensland
1 May 1971
15 August 1971
27 September 1974
12 December 2012
|Dimensions & Displacement|
|Displacement||364 tonnes (loaded, 517 tonnes)|
|Range||3000 nautical miles|
|Machinery||2 x Caterpiller 3406 diesels|
|Guns||2 x 12.7mm machinge guns|
|Radars||Racal Decca Bridgemaster|
|Battle Honours||EAST TIMOR 1999–2000|
HMAS Balikpapan (L126) was named after the final landing of the Pacific War when the RAN’s complete amphibious squadron, HMA Ships Manoora (I), Westralia (I) and Kanimbla (I), put troops of the Australian 7th Division ashore into Borneo on July 1945.
The first of eight vessels of the 311-503 tons full load Balikpapan Class LCH's were initially ordered for the Army Water Transport Units, until a Department of Defence decision in the early 1970s brought all ADF sea-going vessels under the Navy's wing, and the class was jointly manned.
All of the Australian-designed ships were built by Walkers Ltd at Maryborough in Queensland. Balikpapan, as the lead ship, was commissioned in September 1974 making her the last LCH commissioned. Preceding the Department of Defence decision, she was manned by an Army crew until late the following year.
On 5 January 1973, the eight craft were formed into the First Australian Landing Craft Squadron based at HMAS Moreton in the Brisbane River.
On 18 November 1974, two of the squadron, HMAS Buna (L132) and HMAS Salamaua (L131) were transferred to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
Balikpapan was deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce. The landing craft heavy was attached to INTERFET on two occasions; first from 20 September to 13 October 1999, then from 8 December 1999 to 15 January 2000. The ship was awarded the battle honour "East Timor 1999-2000" in recognition of her service. Balikpapan later operated in support of UNTAET, and was the last RAN ship to leave East Timorese waters when she sailed from Dili in August 2001.
Balikpapan returned to East Timor in 2006 during Operation Astute and continues to provide ongoing support as a part of the Australian Government's response in providing assistance to the Government of Timor-Leste.
Home ported in Darwin, the ship has also been employed in some survey roles around Northern Australia.
HMAS Balikpapan was decommissioned at HMAS Coonawarra on the 12 December 2012 after almost 40 years of service moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore. Her last Commanding Officer was LEUT Justine Archer.