Larrakia deployment complete

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Location(s): Palo

"On this spot, Palo, Leyte, General Douglas Macarthur returned to the Philippines on 20 October 1944 and personally led the swift drive against the Japanese Forces in the Philippines. President Sergio Osmena and some members of the government-in-exile arrived with General Macarthur and proceeded to reorganise restore and administer the government of the commonwealth of the Philippines. Declared a national historical landmark 2004."

After steaming 6,368 nautical miles, taking part in Exercise LUMBAS 14, commemorating 70 years since the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, and visiting four South East Asian ports, HMAS Larrakia (with crew Attack Four embarked) has returned to Darwin Naval Base.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander David McPherson noted that many of the crew had not deployed through South East Asia before.

"It was a break in the routine from our recent operational tasking,” he said.

Leaving Australia in mid September, Larrakia’s first port visit was Sandakan in Malaysian Borneo, visiting Royal Malaysian Naval colleagues and a former Japanese Prisoner of War camp, at which some 2,700 Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen were interned from 1942 until the end of the Second World War.

A four-day stopover in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, undertaking activities with the Vietnam People's Navy coincided with a trip to the country by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett.

Larrakia then travelled to the Philippine city of Davao for Exercise LUMBAS 14 to focus on joint civil, military and maritime law enforcement operations including boarding party scenarios, communications exercises, personnel exchanges and replenishments at sea.

In Tacloban, also in the Philippines, the ship's company took part in commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf which were attended by Philippine President Benigo S Aquino III, Commander of the US Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, Philippine Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Gregorio Pio Catapang and all three Filipino Service Chiefs.

Lieutenant Commander McPherson said remembering their Navy forefathers was one of the highlights of the deployment.

“It was a great honour for me, my officers and sailors to represent Australia at such a momentous event,” he said.

Involving regional cooperation, a combined maritime exercise and recognition of an important period in Naval history, the deployment was not only a success from a professional standpoint but also on a personal level for the ship’s company.