Seamen exit Tarakan Brunei

The Royal Australian Navy has transferred the ownership of two decommissioned Balikpapan-class landing craft heavy vessels to the Philippine Navy.

The ex-HMA Ships Tarakan and Brunei were re-commissioned during a ceremony at HMAS Cairns in Queensland.

These vessels will operate with the Philippines Navy as BRP Ivatan (AT298) and BRPBatak (AT299).

The vessels will reportedly assist the Philippines defence modernisation programme, and provide additional intra-theatre sealift capability. They will strengthen the country’s ability to respond to future natural disasters.

In November 2013, approximately 500 Australian Defence Force personnel and army engineers provided in-country support to the Philippines during the Super Typhoon Haiyan disaster.

"This ship will not only honour a great navy leader, it will serve as a testament to all our current and future senior enlisted leaders."

Australian Navy chief vice admiral Tim Barrett said: "The relief effort highlighted the importance of regional sea lift options due to numerous airfields being inaccessible and land infrastructure impassable."

Tarakan and Brunei landing craft served the Australian Defence Force operations for more than 40 years, covering various humanitarian aid missions in Bougainville, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.

The fleet was decommissioned from Australian service on 19 November 2014.

The Philippines Government previously stated that it was evaluating plans to buy the former HMAS Wewak, Betano, and Balikpapan vessels, which were decommissioned by the Australian Navy in 2012.

Image: The decommissioning guard from HMA Ships Tarakan, Labuan and Brunei march ashore from their vessels. Photo: courtesy of Royal Australian Navy.