AFTER more than 40 years of service to the Port of Weipa, Francis Sabatino is retiring from Smit Lamnalco as a tug master on 14 November.

“Fran” began work at Weipa on 11 March 1976, in various roles and was the first master of the tug boat Harry Evans.

Smit Lamnalco managing director for Australia and PNG said Francis Sabatino’s reputation and standing in the community hds shown him to be an outstanding indigenous role model in Weipa.

Francis Sabatino (centre), his wife Jenny and SL contract manager Grant Jamieson. Credit: Smit Lamnalco

“Fran’s contributions to the daily operation, and guidance that he provided will be sorely missed,” Mr Fethers said.

“Both Francis and his wife, Jenny, have contributed much to the community and their absence will be a loss.”

As a tribute, the Smit Lamnalco fleet presented him with a guard of honour on his last run in the harbour.

To commemorate the occasion several gifts were commissioned, an engraved brass ships’ bell, a framed poster of SL King and a poem especially written for Fran.

“The entire Weipa fleet will certainly miss Francis, his hard work and diligence have greatly benefited Smit Lamnalco and the fleet will strive to follow his stellar example,” Mr Fethers said.

“All personnel have really enjoyed working with him during his time here and he was a valuable asset to Smit Lamnalco.”

Fran now plans to spend time with his wife Jenny and his extended family, enjoying fishing and hunting.

“On behalf of Smit Lamnalco we wish to personally congratulate Francis, it has been a pleasure and while we are saddened to see him go, we wish him happiness and success in his retirement,” Mr Fethers said.