HMAS Parramatta recently conducted a port visit to Port Vila, Vanuatu in support of Operation SOLANIA, which aims to assist South Pacific Islands in protecting their own fisheries and natural resources to foster economic development and stability in the South Pacific region.
Whilst in Vanuatu, Parramatta conducted maritime exercises, including a well-executed formation entry and crew exchanges with RVS Tukoro, a Pacific Patrol Boat operated by the Vanuatu Police Force Maritime Wing.
Before setting sail from Port Vila, the boarding party on Parramatta also conducted fishery boarding exercises with some members of the Vanuatu Police Force Maritime Wing.
Sub Lieutenant Christopher Saville said the teamwork and partnership between the two nations was great to see.
"Some of the ship's company engaged with the community by assisting in painting the cafeteria in Malapoa College, Port Vila's higher public education institute.
"It was a very rewarding experience for all involved," he said.
Leading Seaman Dale Marriott said the ship also enjoyed some inter-nation sport
"Some of Parramatta's crew fielded an amateur cricket team to play a T20 game against the Vanuatu Cricket Team, with the latter coming out as champions.
"It was good to have this interaction with the community, for me, witnessing the sports culture is one of the highlights of coming to foreign ports," he said.
An official reception for the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Government officials, diplomats and local figures was also held on the flight deck of Parramatta, which was catered for and supported by the Maritime Logistics Cooks and Stewards onboard.
Parramatta delivered an Australian feast, which included emu, kangaroo and prawns, which was well-received by the guests. A 12-man ceremonial sunset guard was the highlight of the evening, which was commanded by Lieutenant Joel Marrison.
During the port visit when duty was not required, ship’s company had the opportunity to explore the beautiful natural environment of Vanuatu. Some were lucky enough to participate in activities such as island hopping to Irikiki, Hideaway and Erakor Islands, abseiling in Mele Cascades, and diving and snorkelling the many wrecks and reefs around Port Vila.
Parramatta's Commanding Officer, Commander Cannell, said the port visit provided a valuable opportunity to build on the strong relationship between Australia and Vanuatu.
Parramatta is conducting a four week patrol through the South West Pacific to conduct regional engagement and to support the policing the Economic Exclusive Zones of Pacific Island Countries, including operations under the Niue Treaty.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141972.