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SERVING AUSTRALIA WITHPRIDE
January 31, 2013
LEUT Andrew Ragless
AN LJ Torana or a 500 tonne warship?
CO HMAS Betano LEUT Christopher
Cockerill will tell you, either way, you
never forget that first drive.
Speaking at the decommissioning
ceremony, LEUT Cockerill said it was
common to compare ships to cars.
“Frigates are usually some varia-
tion of high performance vehicle, aux-
iliaries might be trucks, but LCHs are
invariably utilities; tough, dependable
and with a reputation for hard work,”
“My first car was not a ute, but
an LJ Torana made in 1973, just like
He said, like so many firsts, a first
car was unforgettable.
“Remember your first time without
a grown up in the passenger seat next
to you? Remember your exhilarating
first road trip or your first break-
down?” he said.
“You don’t forget your firsts
because they teach you all the most
Betano was LEUT Cockerill’s first
command and, like his first car, it was
an important milestone.
“My first ship, and my first com-
pany of men, has taught me more about
Navy and working on the sea than the
rest of my 15 years combined,” he said.
“Of course Betano will always be
special to me, but she’s special in her
own right. Yes she’s old and needs a
lot of love. Yes she is difficult, but we
are better mariners for it.”
LEUT Cockerill said Betano was
more than just a ship to those who
served in her.
“Betano is every sailor who has
worn her rising sun badge, and lived
by the words ‘bravely in difficulties’,”
“Our name, our badge and our
motto are as meaningful to us as our
service to the nation.”
LEUT Andrew Ragless
AFTER four decades of service, three of Navy’s
Balikpapan-class LCHs decommissioned in
December at ceremonies in Darwin and Cairns.
Personnel and dignitaries gathered at HMA
Ships Coonawarra and Cairns to farewell HMA
Ships Balikpapan, Betano and Wewak.
As friends and family looked on the ships’
COs and companies farewelled their vessels in
traditional Navy decommissioning ceremonies.
Balikpapan served for 41 years, Betano for
38 years and Wewak for 39 years, conducting
countless operational deployments and making
a vital contribution to Navy’s overall effort to
protect Australian waters.
The COs expressed great pride at having
the final command of their respective ships
and recounted the long and distinguished his-
tory of the vessels, which have operated at high
tempo in support of Navy operations at home
CO Balikpapan LEUT Justine Archer said
commanding Balik, as she’s affectionately
known, was a career highlight and she fare-
welled her with great fondness.
“Among her many accomplishments, she
assisted the people of Darwin in the aftermath
of Cyclone Tracy and supported the foundation
of Timor-Leste – for which she achieved a meri-
torious unit citation,” LEUT Archer said.
“She has always been ready to respond to the
plights of her country, whenever and wherever
CO Betano LEUT Christopher Cockerill also
expressed fondness for his ship.
“Command is a privilege and I am extremely
proud of the professionalism of my ship’s com-
pany,” he said.
“We are extremely honoured to have had
the chance to be a part of the final chapter of
Betano’s long and distinguished history of ser-
vice to the nation.”
CO Wewak LEUT Luke Weston said his ship
had served Navy with pride.
“Wewak conducted countless operational
deployments and made a vital contribution to
Navy’s delivery of secure Australian waters,”
LEUT Weston said.
“It was my honour and pleasure to command
her and it is with great fondness that we say
The three remaining LCHs are due to be
decommissioned over the next two years.
They will be replaced by six new heavy
landing craft with improved ocean-going capa-
bilities able to transport armoured vehicles,
trucks, stores and people.
An unforgettable service
Farewell to old friends
LAST TIME: The decommissioning guard
from HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano
march ashore from their vessels.
Photo: LSIS Helen Frank
PROUD SERVICE: The crews of HMA Ships Balikpapan and Betano man their ships for the
Photo: LSIS Helen Frank
FOND FAREWELL: HMAS Wewak’s ship’s company cross the gangway
during her decommissioning ceremony at HMAS Cairns.
Photo: SMNMT Jake Badior
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