Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship, HMAS Tarakan has berthed alongside the North Queensland town of Bowen for the final time before she is decommissioned later this year.
First granted Freedom of Entry (FOE) to the town in 2004, ship’s company conducted one last march through the township, capping off a decade long relationship with the community.
Commanding Officer of Tarakan, Lieutenant James Carroll, said it was important to include Bowen in the ship’s decommissioning voyage.
“Bowen has been become a big part of the ships service life, with ship’s company regularly participate in Anzac Day marches and community events here,” Lieutenant Carroll said.
“The township has always been extremely welcoming to the ship and her crew over the years, which is why we are here for a final goodbye and to thank the community.”
Although saddened that the connection between the ship and town will come to an end, Lieutenant Carroll said a part of the ship will have a lasting presence in Bowen.
“Earlier this year we donated Tarakan’s original helm to the Bowen RSL, along with other items from the ship,” Lieutenant Carroll said.
“The items will act as a reminder of not only Tarakan’s service, but of the friendship between the Bowen and our ship.”
Tarakan spent a total of four days alongside in Bowen, taking advantage of the occasion to invite members of the public onboard for a ship’s tour.
“A ship’s tour is a fantastic way for the crew to personally interact with the community and show what life in the Navy is like,” Lieutenant Carroll said.
“The Landing Craft Heavy is a unique ship to the Navy and receives a lot of interest from the public, so it is nice to give people an up-close look.”
“We had over 250 people visit us on the day, which was fantastic to see, however, we couldn’t have done it with out the outstanding help of the local Police Citizens Youth Club.”
Tarakan’s crew also undertook a number of community engagements while alongside including a visit to Bowen State High School where Lieutenant Carroll addressed 600 students about leadership and life in the RAN.
“Additionally, the ship’s company paid a visit to the residents of the RSL Care’s Cunningham Village,” Lieutenant Carroll said.
“To finish off a great visit to Bowen, we had a friendly game of touch football against the local Fire Fighters and Police.”
Tarakan’s decommissioning voyage, conducted in company with sister ship Labuan will include port visits to Ballina, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Both vessels will also participate in amphibious exercise during the voyage.
The final three LCHs Labuan, Tarakan and Brunei will be paid off together in a ceremony at HMAS Cairns later this year ending 40 years of service in the RAN.