The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) has commissioned HMPNGS Lakekamu, a new landing craft heavy (LCH) vessel, at a ceremony in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
HMPNGS Lakekamu is the Royal Australia Navy’s (Ran) Balikpapan-class LCH vessel, HMAS Labuan, which was decommissioned after almost 40 years of service.
Australian Defence Minister Senator David Johnston said HMAS Labuan was sailed by a combined RAN and PNGDF crew to Port Moresby.
The vessel, which has been gifted as a training vessel, will be used to develop mariner skills and a seaworthiness culture in the Maritime Element’s growing workforce.
It has been named after the Lakekamu River located in Gulf Province, south-western Papua New Guinea.
During its service with the RAN it supported numerous operations and exercises.
Designed to transport cargo and supplies from ships located offshore to water terminals or the shore, the 44.75m-long Balikpapan-class LCHs can make oceanic voyages in moderate conditions.
The 323t vessels can accommodate a crew of 13, including two officers and 11 sailors, and are armed with two 0.50in machine guns. They can also transport large quantities of cargo, troops and equipment from heavy ships to shore.
HMPNGS Lakekamu, which has a maximum range of 2,280nm, is powered by two GE diesel engines and ca cruise at a top speed of 9k.