Making her way north to commence duties as part of Operation MANITOU, HMAS Newcastle made a port visit to Cochin, India, further strengthening relationships recently made on exercise off Fremantle.
As a continuation of Exercise AUSINDEX, the visit allowed for the strengthening of international relations between Australia and India, and gave the crew the opportunity to experience the wonderful culture India has to offer.
There were many notable interactions between Newcastle and the Indian Navy which allowed each group to gain an appreciation for how the other operated.
Several members of Newcastle’s crew joined the locals for a friendly match of volleyball. The energy in the room was high, with some two hundred spectators in attendance to cheer on their respective teams.
Leading Seaman Communication and Informations Systems Patrick Palmer said the first minutes of the game seemed to fly by like a blur.
“I barely remember my first touch of the ball, a dive onto the wooden floor to return a heat-seeking serve from the opposition’s team captain,” he said.
The games were played in good spirits, with a final match incorporating members of both the Indian and Australian Navy combining forces and having mixed teams of players competing against each other.
Rear Admiral Ravindra Jayanti Nadkarni, Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, hosted officers from Newcastle at a luncheon, allowing for interaction between officers from each Navy.
The Australian officers were able to sample a wide variety of traditional Indian cuisines and experience Indian culture at its finest.
Lieutenant Aaron Schurink said that the food was sensational, but the company was even better.
Several lucky members of Newcastle’s crew were also fortunate to receive a guided tour of the Southern Naval Command training units such as the Gunnery, Anti-Submarine Warfare and Navigation and Direction schools.
Likewise, Indian Naval personnel were able to see life on board Newcastle with a tour of the ship.
After a visit of many new experiences, and the tasting of new culinary delights, Newcastle departed Cochin in company with INS Sunayna.
The two ships conducted a very successful Passage Exercise including Replenishment at Sea approaches, the exchange of gifts via light line messenger, and the conduct of Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres and boat drills.
On parting, a hearty cheer ship from both fittingly ended the relationship-building interaction between the two navies.
Newcastle departed to continue towards her operational deployment in the Middle East supporting international efforts to promote maritime stability and security.