Australian and Singaporean navies bond on the sporting field

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), POIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Location(s): Larrekeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra, Volleyball

Australian Navy Sailors from HMAS Coonawarra together with Midshipmen from the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Resolution during a friendly sports competition held at Larrekeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, NT. (photo: POIS Peter Thompson)
Australian Navy Sailors from HMAS Coonawarra together with Midshipmen from the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Resolution during a friendly sports competition held at Larrekeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, NT.

Republic of Singapore Ship Resolution arrived in Darwin recently for what shaped as four days of rest and relaxation during a busy training deployment.

However the officers and sailors of Australia's navy base in the north, HMAS Coonawarra, had other ideas, inviting their regional neighbours for a friendly volleyball competition and a tug-of-war battle.

Chief Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Stuart Rowe, the event organiser, said rivalry between the two sides was strong during the contests, but the friendships forged afterwards highlighted the importance of sport as a diplomatic tool.

“While we are military people and competitive by nature, the values of sport - competition, teamwork and fair play - help build trust between countries and bring people together.

“Sport is a universal language,” he said.

The final result was a diplomatic draw - Coonawarra won the tug of war and Resolution won the volleyball - but it wasn’t the game on the field that was important, according to Captain Lei Fengyi of Resolution.

“The visit was important because it enhanced mutual understanding, cooperation and friendship between our two navies,” Captain Fengyi said.

Resolution also held a luncheon on board for the officers and sailors of Coonawarra.

Resolution is a 141-metre-long Landing Platform Dock that can carry four landing craft inside its dock and two medium lift helicopters in the hangar.

The ship is on a two month deployment, sailing from Changi Naval Base in Singapore to Jakarta in Indonesia and Darwin before returning home again.

Of the 150 personnel on board, 65 are Midshipmen under training.

During the deployment they will receive training on the fundamentals of life at sea, such as navigation, communications and engineering, and undergo leadership development.

When in harbour, the Midshipmen experience naval diplomacy with foreign navies.

Australia’s strong relationship with Singapore began in 1965, when Australia became the first country to recognise Singapore as an independent nation.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20192004.