Ships visit Ballina on their final voyages

OLD SALTS: Enjoying the arrival of two Royal Australian Navy landing craft in Ballina last weekend are former sailors and locals Kevin Thompson, Max Lewis, Wayne Harris and Warwick Shinner.
OLD SALTS: Enjoying the arrival of two Royal Australian Navy landing craft in Ballina last weekend are former sailors and locals Kevin Thompson, Max Lewis, Wayne Harris and Warwick Shinner.

LIEUTENANT Christopher Cockerill said he was more proud than sad being the last skipper on the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Betano.

The Betano and HMAS Wewak, both landing craft, visited Ballina last weekend on their final voyage back to their home ports.

The Betano will be decommissioned on December 12 at Darwin, while the Wewak will be decommissioned on December 11 at Cairns.

Lt Cockerill said he wasn't sure what the fate of the ships would be after they were decommissioned after more than 30 years' service.

But he said he was pleased with the reception the ships - and their crews of 20 each - received in town.

With a draught of 2.4m, the flat-bottomed vessels had no trouble getting over the Ballina bar, though their arrival was swift on a "flooding" incoming tide.

The ships were in Ballina to coincide with the annual All Ships reunion organised by the Ballina Sub-Section of the Naval Association of Australia.

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