Two former Australian Balikpapan-class landing craft were commissioned into the Philippines Navy today.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett was joined at HMAS Cairns by his Philippine counterpart, Flag Officer in Command Philippine Navy, Vice Admiral Jesus Millan, at a ceremony to gift the two former Australian Balikpapan-class landing craft to the Government of the Philippines.
The Australian-decommissioned vessels, former HMA Ships Brunei (lead in photo) and Tarakan (rear), were re‑commissioned into the Republic of Philippines Navy at the ceremony, as BRP Ivatan (AT298) and BRP Batak (AT299).
With more than 40 years service, the versatility of the Balikpapan-class ships was demonstrated through their logistics support of Australian Defence Force operations in Bougainville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, and numerous humanitarian aid missions both domestically and through the region – including the Philippines.
Most recently, in November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan caused significant devastation to the Philippines and approximately 500 Australian Defence Force personnel, including the crew of HMAS Tobruk and a deployment of Army Engineers, provided in-country support to the relief effort, at the request of the Philippines Government.
“The relief effort highlighted the importance of regional sea-lift options due to numerous airfields being inaccessible and land infrastructure impassable,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“[The craft handed over today] will assist the Philippines defence modernisation program and improve the Philippine Navy’s ability to respond to future natural disasters.”