Labuan to Lakekamu

Published on LCDR Chloe Wootten (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Location(s): Port Moresby, PNG

Commanding Officer HMAS Tarakan, Lieutenant James Carroll, RAN, Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill, RAN, Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti, Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN, Defence Adviser for Papua New Guinea, Colonel Joseph Fabila and Defence Advisor to Port Moresby, Colonel Richard Parker stand on the tank deck of HMAS Labuan. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Commanding Officer HMAS Tarakan, Lieutenant James Carroll, RAN, Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill, RAN, Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti, Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN, Defence Adviser for Papua New Guinea, Colonel Joseph Fabila and Defence Advisor to Port Moresby, Colonel Richard Parker stand on the tank deck of HMAS Labuan.

A ceremony was held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on 4 December to mark the commissioning of the Her Majesty Papua New Guinea Ship Lakekamu into service with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.

Lakekamu was formerly the Royal Australia Navy Landing Craft Heavy HMAS Labuan, which was decommissioned from Australian service at a ceremony in Cairns last month.

The gifting of HMAS Labuan, which fulfilled a commitment made by the Australian government to Papua New Guinea last year.

The Commanding Officers of HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill, RAN addresses the audience at the decommissioning ceremony of HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan.

The Commanding Officers of HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Christopher Cockerill, RAN addresses the audience at the decommissioning ceremony of HMA Ships Brunei, Labuan and Tarakan.


Following its decommissioning, the vessel was sailed to Port Moresby by a combined Royal Australian Navy and Papua New Guinea Defence Force crew.

Lakekamu has been gifted to Papua New Guinea as a training vessel, and will be used by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to develop mariner skills and a seaworthiness culture in the Maritime Element’s growing workforce.

Rear Admiral Mark Purcell represented the Australian Defence Force and Royal Australian Navy at the ceremony in Papua New Guinea and said that the gifting represented an increase in the ability to train the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element.

Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan Lieutenant Chris Cockerill, RAN shows Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti and Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN the bridge prior to the ship being decommissioned.

Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan Lieutenant Chris Cockerill, RAN shows Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti and Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN the bridge prior to the ship being decommissioned.


"It is very important in their period of regrowth and will build on a Landing Craft Heavy capability 40 years in the making and complement the Pacific Patrol Boat program," he said.

"I am particularly pleased that a former Australian vessel that has spent so much time in Papua New Guinea can continue in her service. As HMAS Labuan, the vessel was a frequent visitor to these waters."

Labuan carried relief supplies to Papua New Guinea communities affected by droughts in 1997.

Able Seaman Heath Caffarella shows Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti and Defence Adviser for Papua New Guinea, Colonel Joseph Fabila the engine room as Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN and Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Chris Cockerill, RAN watch on.

Able Seaman Heath Caffarella shows Secretary Papua New Guinea Department of Defence, Mr John Porti and Defence Adviser for Papua New Guinea, Colonel Joseph Fabila the engine room as Capability Manager Amphibious and Afloat Support Group, Captain Tony Rayner, RAN and Commanding Officer HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Chris Cockerill, RAN watch on.


The honour of being the first Commanding Officer of Lakekamu goes to Royal Australian Navy Officer, Lieutenant Commander James Carroll, who most recently was decommissioning Commanding Officer of HMAS Tarakan, retired from the fleet in November.

Lakekamu has been named after the Lakekamu River, in Gulf Province, south-western Papua New Guinea, and is the first vessel to bear that name.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143526.