Samoan-born sailor returns to homeland during IPE18

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Sarah West (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Apia, Samoa

Topic(s): HMAS Success (OR 304), Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain Saluluelanei Gray on the flight deck of HMAS Success during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain Saluluelanei Gray on the flight deck of HMAS Success during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018.

It was a homecoming of sorts when Leading Seaman Saluluelanei Gray sailed into Apia, Samoa onboard HMAS Success during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018.

Leading Seaman Gray was born in the Samoa’s Moto’otua Hospital and moved to Australia with her parents in 1995.

After finishing school in Melbourne, Leading Seaman Gray joined the Navy as a Maritime Logistics Sailor. Her career has included operational deployments to the Middle East and representing Navy and the Australian Defence Force in rugby union.

She said a piece of her heart has always remained in Samoa.

“I still have a lot of family in Samoa and I try to visit often, but that’s not always easy with work commitments,” she said.

“It will be so nice to reconnect with family who I haven’t seen in years.

“I’m also looking forward to sharing my culture and traditions with my friends onboard Success, and sharing my Navy life with my family here in Samoa,” Leading Seaman Gray said.

She had the rare privilege of sailing into an overseas port and staying in her family’s village.

“It is quite special to be able to go and spend time there,” Leading Seaman Gray said.

This is not the first time Leading Seaman Gray has sailed into Apia, having visited more than a decade ago in HMAS Tobruk. 

Success spent four days in Apia, conducting a range of activities with the Samoa Police Service and assisting with local community projects.

The ship is on her way to Hawaii to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).