Two Royal Australian Navy landing craft have delivered vital supplies to remote communities in Solomon Islands as part of Australia’s commitment to provide support to the region.
HMA Ships Labuan and Tarakan transported education, medical and flood relief supplies from the capital Honiara to coastal communities in need. Labuan headed north and east to Tulaghi and Auki, with her sister ship Tarakan heading south to Guadalcanal’s very remote Weather Coast.
Commanding Officer of Tarakan, Lieutenant James Carroll, said the landing craft were ideally suited to the task.
“Some communities are incredibly remote and mountainous with no roads or established port facilities, so the only way to get supplies in is either by small boat or helicopter. Our shallow draft and large cargo capacity was perfect,” he said.
The stores and equipment were provided by the Solomon Islands Government and non-government organisations.
“Some regions had not received stores since a tropical low in February caused flooding - we were very pleased to assist,” LEUT Carroll said.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Labuan, Lieutenant Chris Cockerill, said the experience was a highlight for his crew.
“We will never forget having the Tulaghi primary school children sing their thanks to the crew at assembly. We handed-out sports equipment and books, which were donated by the town of Ballina, then joined them on the playground for football,” LEUT Cockerill said.
Labuan and Tarakan will now return to Cairns, marking the end of their decommissioning voyages, that took them to ports in regional Queensland as well as the South Pacific. While deployed, they participated in the international humanitarian and disaster response Exercise CROIX DU SUD in waters off New Caledonia.
Navy will decommission HMA Ships Labuan, Tarakan and Brunei in Cairns in November, after almost 40 years of service.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142796.