By Theckla Gunga – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Her Majesty Papua New Guinean Ship ‘Rabaul’ was farewelled in a traditional naval ceremony during her decommissioning last Friday.
HMPNGS Rabaul was the first of 22 Pacific Class Patrol Boats given to the PNGDF Navy in the 1987.
She has served the Defence Force for 31 years and two months clocking over 44 000 hours of sea patrols.
Her decommissioning was witnessed by her first and now retired Captain Max Aleale, senior members of the PNGDF, those in the Maritime Sector and naval officers.
Initially named HMPNGS Tarangau, Rabaul became the first Naval Vessel to be used for primary surveillance and fisheries protection under the United Nations Law of the Sea in 1982.
On May 16th 1987, Rabaul was commissioned as a PNGDF Naval Vessel and commenced her naval career under her first Commanding Officer, now retired captain Max Aleale.
Out of the initial crew that sailed with Rabaul into Port Moresby, three are currently serving the PNGDF, including the current chief of staff, Captain Philip Polewara.
Rabaul has served the PNGDF Navy on numerous military missions. These include international exercises, sovereignty patrols and disaster relief assistance.
During her decommissioning, her crew paraded for the last time in full ceremonial dress, marching passed the PNGDF Chief of Staff, Captain Phillip Polewara, for the last time.
Rabaul’s Commanding Officer Captain Roboam Hosea, who read the decommissioning orders, will be leading his crew to Australia for further naval training.
And as the sun began to set, one minute of silence was observed for all those who had served on the ship.
The flags on all naval ships that were present to witness the decommissioning were lowered, signifying the end of Rabaul’s naval career.