The Armidale Class Patrol Boat, with Attack 4 embarked, is one week into a six-week South East Asian Deployment.
After the necessary refueling and restoring at Sandakan, the crew took in some of the cultural sights on offer in the city that was made infamous by the WWII death marches undertaken by allied prisoners of war.
“Despite our short time in Sandakan, we managed to squeeze a fair bit in,” said Lieutenant Commander Dave McPherson, Attack Four’s Commanding Officer.
“The tour of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the visit to the Sandakan Prisoner of War Memorial Gardens were by far the highlights of the visit,” he said.
Approximately 2700 Australian and British POWs were interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp at Sandakan from 1942, most of whom were captured during the fall of Singapore.
The prisoners were used as forced labour to build a military airstrip, however in 1945, with the war in the Pacific turning, the Japanese forced the surviving prisoners to march to the isolated settlement of Ranau, North Borneo - only six were to survive.
“I think each crew member who visited the Memorial Gardens came away with a greater appreciation of the tragic hardships suffered by the prisoners of war who were in Sandakan during that period of time,” Lieutenant Commander McPherson said.
While alongside, Lieutenant Commander McPherson and a number of crew members also visited the Sandakan Royal Malaysian Naval (RMN) base where they were entertained by RMN personnel.
Larrakia will also visit Vietnam, Palau and the Philippines, where she will take part in Exercise LUMBAS 2014, an annual bilateral maritime exercise between Australia and the Phillipines.
Larrakia will also take part in the 70th commemoration of the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.
HMAS Larrakia alongside Sandakan Harbour in Malaysia.