Australian and Indian Submariners share common ground

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author and photographer)

Location(s): Wellington, Tamil Nadu, India

Commander Tony Ellis and his Indian Navy counterpart Commander Parag Tiwari exchange 'Dolphins' as a momento of their meeting at the Indian Defence Staff College. (photo: CMDR Fenn Kemp)
Commander Tony Ellis and his Indian Navy counterpart Commander Parag Tiwari exchange 'Dolphins' as a momento of their meeting at the Indian Defence Staff College.

Submariner, Commander Tony ‘Gecko’ Ellis, has found new friends in far away places, during a visit to the Indian Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu, India.

Commander Ellis is a student at the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC) in Canberra. He, and a small delegation of ACSC students, were warmly welcomed by their Indian counterparts during a recent study tour. One of the Indian counterparts was a fellow submariner, Commander Parag Tiwari.

“Our uniforms may be different, but the submariner community is the same across the globe,” Commander Ellis said.

“I’ve exercised with the Indian Navy several times and they have always struck me as a very like-minded and professional organisation.”

The pair discussed the academic workload they were each facing during their year of study, which will ultimately earn them a Masters degree in Strategic and Defence studies.

“It’s been a challenging year so far,” Commander Ellis said, “but I was interested and maybe even a little comforted to learn that Parag was going through exactly the same academic stresses and challenges that I am. This visit to India has really opened my eyes to how important our friendship with India is, and I think the defence members that we're are meeting here are just as keen to learn more about how the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force operates in general.”

Commander Ellis said that as his meeting was wrapping up, he thought he should give his counterpart something as a memento.

“I dived into my bag for my spare set of dolphins. When I came back, I saw Parag had done exactly the same thing for me. So we both ended our meeting with a laugh and a souvenir.”

Commander Ellis also took the opportunity to pass on his condolences for the recent fatal Indian submarine fire in Mumbai, which claimed the lives of as many as 18 Indian sailors.

“It was very informal but I think Parag appreciated our thoughts. As much as we all train for the worst case scenario, its always shocking to hear of a disaster like that has actually occurred.”

The RAN is set to host the Indian Navy in October with the 6200 ton Shivalik Class frigate INS Sahyadri expected to attend the International Fleet Review to be held in Sydney from 3-11 October 2013.

The review commemorates the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet into Sydney on 4 October 1913 when the flagship, HMAS Australia, led the new Australian Fleet Unit comprising HMA Ships Melbourne, Sydney, Encounter, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra into Sydney Harbour for the first time to be greeted by thousands of cheering citizens lining the foreshore.

As Navy's signature commemorative event for 2013, the International Fleet Review is being planned in partnership with the NSW Government and the City of Sydney and will draw around 40 warships, 20 tall ships and thousands of visiting sailors from around the world. It coincides with the RAN Sea Power Conference 2013 and Pacific 2013 International Maritime Congress and Exposition being held at Darling Harbour from 7 October 2013.

For more information about the International Fleet Review visit www.navy.gov.au/ifr