In the time-honoured tradition of visiting warships paying respect to local dignitaries and officials, Commanding Officer of HMAS Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Richard Brickacek has conducted official calls in the port of Kure, Japan.
With an escort provided by officers from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), LCDR Brickacek accompanied by the Australian Defence Attaché in Japan, Colonel Simon Monterola, paid formal visits to the Mayor of Kure, the Kure Police Chief, Deputy Commander of the regional Coast Guard unit and a representative of the JMSDF Fifth Naval District.
Mayor of Kure, Mr Yoshiake Shinhara, provided a warm welcome, acknowledging the importance of the visit by the Minehunter and the spirit of cooperation and friendship with the JMSDF.
The Mayor noted the rich history of Australian support in the Kure region, in particular the Commonwealth and Australian soldiers based there in the 1950s.
“It is an honour to have the Royal Australian Navy visit Kure,” said Mr Shinhara.
While the Commanding Officer of Gascoyne was occupied with official engagements, the ship’s company used the opportunity to reach out to their local counterparts in a fine display of fostering international friendship during a round robin volleyball tournament.
After a fun filled four hours of competition, the Gascoyne A team pushed through to win the day against JMSDF’s Minehunter Miyajima team.
For Sub Lieutenant Liam Whitfeld it was another highlight on his first visit to Japan.
“Playing sport with the JMSDF presented no cultural barriers, we all had fun and enjoyed the opportunity to interact in a friendly match,” said SBLT Whitfeld.
Sport and fitness is having a significant impact on building positive relationships with the Royal Australian Navy and JMSDF in Kure. More sporting activities are being conducted between the Minehunter crews, demonstrating that fitness and camaraderie are shared values for both Navies.
Gascoyne is visiting Kure in Japan prior to joining sister ship HMAS Huon to take part in a tri-lateral mine warfare exercise with the JMSDF and the United States Navy.