HMAS Wollongong didn’t waste time getting involved with the local community when she came alongside in Honiara, Solomon Islands, recently.
The crew of the Armidale class patrol boat lent a hand at Seif Ples (Safe Place) - a volunteer organisation that provides shelter and care to survivors of domestic abuse.
Commanding Officer Wollongong Lieutenant Commander Scott Wilson said the South West Pacific deployment had been a major milestone for the patrol boat community.
“This is the first time a patrol boat has been deployed to the region for a number of years,” Lieutenant Commander Wilson said.
“We are proud to represent Australia and the Navy and we are doing important work.”
Wollongong is deployed to the South West Pacific Islands as part of the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to assist with building security capacity in the region.
The crew will also travel to Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia during the deployment.
Australian citizen Kim Abbey opened Seif Ples in 2014. It is the only organisation of its kind in the Solomon Islands.
Wollongong built a footpath and a garden feature to make the centre more homely to the women who use it.
The crew also cleared land the organisation will use to build a new medical clinic and make its service more accessible to the community.
The patrol boat crew then went onto play a friendly game of soccer with the local police force, managing to score the first goal.
The home side drew level late in the first half, however, and scored the final goal in extra time to win 2-1.
The success of the friendly rivalry was sealed when Lieutenant Commander Wilson presented the police force with an official ship’s plaque.