Pacific ties strengthened at sea and in the air

Published on LEUT Dave Devlin (author), POIS Justin Brown (photographer)

Location(s): Port Moresby, PNG, Lombrum Naval Base, PNG

Topic(s): MRH-90 Taipan, HMAS Choules (L100)

Members of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element on the flight deck of HMAS Choules after being winched down to the deck from an MRH-90 Multi Role Helicopter during a deployment to the South West Pacific region.  (photo: POIS Justin Brown)
Members of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element on the flight deck of HMAS Choules after being winched down to the deck from an MRH-90 Multi Role Helicopter during a deployment to the South West Pacific region.

HMAS Choules has hosted 18 members of the Maritime Element of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force for a short voyage from Port Moresby to the Lombrum Naval Base, HMPNGS Tarangau, in Manus Province.

Throughout the transit, the group of officers and sailors had the opportunity to gain some hands-on experiences of life at sea in a Bay Class Landing Ship through participating in ship tours, observing safety equipment demonstrations and taking part in an aviation familiarisation activity involving the ships’ embarked MRH-90 Multi Role helicopter.

The visitors not only got to experience a flight in the aircraft, but were also afforded the experience of being winched back down to the flight deck.

For many in the group, it was their first time on an Australian Warship at sea and the first time they’d flown in a helicopter.

The opportunity to live amongst the ship’s company, join in on mess deck recreational activities and join Choules’ crew in their daily physical training activities resulted in many new friendships being formed.

Royal Australian Navy Sailor, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Courtney McVeigh conducts an Alpha 400 helmet fit on Ordinary Seaman Douglas Warkaul, of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element onboard HMAS Choules.

Royal Australian Navy Sailor, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Courtney McVeigh conducts an Alpha 400 helmet fit on Ordinary Seaman Douglas Warkaul, of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element onboard HMAS Choules.

Ordinary Seaman Douglas Warkaul, a Marine Technician from Papua New Guinea’s West New Britain province, said his time in Choules was very exciting.

“I’ve learned lots about safety at sea and the overall way of life in a large ship,” Seaman Warkaul said.

"I’ve enjoyed talking with the crew across the different departments and learning how their roles are performed on board. 

“Doing physical training activities while at sea was a new concept to me, but very enjoyable to do while making new friends.

"The ship's hospitality has been excellent, and I would personally like to thank our Australian counterparts for their support and generosity in having us on board and planning the many opportunities we all experienced,” Seaman Warkaul said.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have a long and enduring partnership, built on shared experiences and deep community links.

The two Defence Forces often work and train alongside each other, providing interoperability and capacity building through cooperation.

Choules Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Aaron Convery said providing foreign partners with sea-riding opportunities promoted better mutual understanding.

“Whenever we can spend time creating these moments for our regional defence partners, it allows them to experience the many differences in procedures and systems between our two nations.

“These experiences become very important when our Defence Forces have to work together in a real-life situations,” Lieutenant Commander Convery said.

HMAS Choules deployment to the South-West Pacific region will further facilitate an enhanced program of training activities and exercises between the Royal Australian Navy and its regional partners.

The deployment supports the development of regional Pacific Island security forces and enhances interoperability in the region.

Additional imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20190322.