Two ships from the Royal Australian Navy were recently welcomed to Japan with a sake ceremony with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.
HMA Ships Melbourne and Parramatta, in addition to a Royal Australian Air Force P-3, participated in the Exercise NICHI-GOU TRIDENT which was shortened due to Typhoon Lan impacting on the Japanese coast.
The Commanding Officer Parramatta, Commander Simon Howard, said the exercise promoted opportunities for interaction and exchange of professional views between personnel of both forces.
“This strengthened relationships and understanding of procedures through harbour phase, sport and social interaction,” he said.
Commander Howard and Commanding Officer Melbourne, Commander Charles Bourne, joined with Director General Maritime Operations, Commodore Michael Rothwell in a traditional welcome.
Wearing ceremonial kimonos, they joined with their Japanese hosts in breaking open the sake barrel with wooden mallets.
Commander Charles Bourne said the opening of the barrels was important in Japanese culture.
“The opening of the barrels was symbolic to the opening of Exercise NICHI-GOU TRIDENT and the Japanese place emphasis on the sharing of the sake with friends,” Commander Bourne said.
“All guests, including our ship’s companies, were invited to share from the sake barrel and we were also gifted the wooden sake boxes.
“It was a formal and much appreciated welcome from our Japanese friends.”
The activity broadly enhanced mutual understanding and cooperation through the conduct of mission specific briefings, table-top exercises, scenario-based practical demonstrations and exercises.