Yarra visit strengthens Indonesian ties

This article has photo gallery Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Makassar, Indonesia

Topic(s): HMAS Yarra (M87)

HMAS Yarra’s Navigator LEUT Amy Brauns hosts a guided Bridge tour during a three day visit to Makassar in Eastern Indonesia. (photo: Unknown)
HMAS Yarra’s Navigator LEUT Amy Brauns hosts a guided Bridge tour during a three day visit to Makassar in Eastern Indonesia.

The crew of the Huon class minehunter HMAS Yarra has paid a rare port call to the Indonesian trade centre of Makassar.
 
Yarra
 was the first Royal Australian Navy vessel to visit Makassar since the opening of the Australian mission in the city this March.

Australia is South Sulawesi’s second largest source of imports with goods worth US$135.6 million.

As the gateway to Eastern Indonesia, Makassar is one of the Indonesian region’s most important maritime trade and cultural centres.

While Indonesian port visits are becoming increasingly common for Australian Navy vessels, few if any of Yarra’s crew had ever visited Makassar before. 

“Several of the crew have previously visited other Indonesian ports primarily Bali,” Commanding Officer HMAS Yarra, Lieutenant Commander Jason McBain said.

“Makassar was different in that it was not as big or busy, with the highlights being the people and local cuisine.”

The ceremonial aspect of the visit was also entertaining with the locals putting on an extremely warm welcome.

“The welcome was far bigger than I had expected, to arrive in port and be greeted by the Indonesian Navy band, and so many officers and dignitaries was an honour.

“Then proceeding ashore to be welcomed with gifts and a cultural performance was indicative of the warm welcome that I and the crew received for the entire visit,” Lieutenant Commander McBain said.

Yarra’s
 visit was extremely important in raising local awareness of Australia’s presence and the crew were kept busy.

'Selfie diplomacy’ was alive and well as Royal Australian Navy members mixed with their Indonesian counterparts and local officials.

“I don’t think I have ever seen that many selfies and photos taken before,” Lieutenant Commander McBain said.

“It really showed that the people of Makassar were genuinely happy that an Australian vessel was visiting their city.”

Makassar and Australia have much in common and share a close maritime heritage. As early as 1700, fishing communities in South Sulawesi made the voyage to northern Australia to trade and to engage with the local Australian population.

Lieutenant Commander McBain said the visit reenforced the importance of the Australian Defence Force’s relationship with our nearest neighbour.

“The Indonesian and Australian Navy relationship is exceptionally important,” Lieutenant Commander McBain said. 

“Australia and Indonesia have a shared interest in maintaining a safe and stable region. We are all proud to have played a role in that growing relationship.”