HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano decommissioned

13 December 2012

Darwin Navy personnel and dignitaries, including Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett AM, CSC, RAN RAN , The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Darwin Ms Katrina Fong Lim, Federal Member for Solomon Mrs Natasha Griggs MP all recently gathered at HMAS Coonawarra to farewell to two old friends, Balikpapan Class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) ships HMAS Balikpapan and HMAS Betano.

The crews of HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano lower the Australian White Ensign for the last time as they decommission the vessels.
The crews of HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano lower the Australian White Ensign for the last time as they decommission the vessels.

HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano served with distinction for 41 years (Army and Navy) and 38 years respectively, conducting countless operational deployments and making a vital contribution not only to Navy's delivery of secure Australian waters but also Humanitarian support both her an overseas.

As friends and family looked on the ships’ Commanding Officers and companies farewelled their ships in a traditional Navy decommissioning ceremony.

Both Commanding Officer's expressed “great pride” at commanding their respective vessels and recounted the long and distinguished history of both vessels which have operated at high tempo in support of Navy operations at home and abroad.

“Commanding HMAS Balikpapan has been an absolute career highlight and it is with great fondness that I farewell her today,” Commanding Officer Lieutenant Justine Archer said.

HMAS Betano Commanding Officer Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill also expressed his fondness towards the ship saying, “Command is a privilege and I am extremely proud of the professionalism of my ship’s company. We are extremely honoured to have had the chance to be a part of the final chapter of Betano’s long and distinguished history of service to the nation,” he said.

Eight LCH vessels joined the First Australian Landing Craft Squadron between 1971 and 1975.  Each LCH was named after an amphibious assault of World War II. HMAS Balikpapan was named after the final landing of the Pacific War by the Australian 7th Division in Borneo on July 1945. HMAS Betano was named after the amphibious landing Betano in Timor on 23 September 1942.

All of the Balikpapan Class LCH ships are due to be decommissioned during the next two years. HMA Ships Wewak, Betano and Balikpapan are decommissioning this month. HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan are programmed to decommission in the last quarter of 2014.

Imagery of HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano decommissioning ceremony is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library.