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First SW Pacific deployment

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (Samoa News, May 20, 2009) – HMA Ships Labuan and Tarakan, Balikpapan Class Heavy Landing Craft, will arrive in Apia today Wednesday 20 May as part of their first South West Pacific deployment.

The ships are conducting a seven week deployment, visiting Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Brisbane.

"The crew are very excited to visit Samoa," says Lieutenant Commander Damien Munchenberg, Commanding Officer of HMAS Tarakan, "especially for those who have never visited the country before.

"Both ships have really enjoyed the first part of our South West Pacific deployment and look forward to spending time in this beautiful part of the Pacific."

The purpose of the deployment is to engage Australia’s regional neighbours and to strengthen international ties. Royal Australian Navy units regularly visit nations in the South West Pacific and participate in a range of exercises in the region.

Labuan and Tarakan will return to their home port of Cairns on 12 June 2009.

Labuan and Tarakan are capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships such as HMA Ships Kanimbla, Manoora and Tobruk or from civilian ships, to shore.

Labuan was built in Maryborough, Queensland and was commissioned on 9 March 1973. Tarakan was built in Maryborough, Queensland and was commissioned on 15 June 1973. Both ships are based in Cairns, Queensland with a crew of 21.

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