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.
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.
"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.
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.