Promoting cultural exchange, West African style

Published on LEUT Tim Martin (author and photographer), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Topic(s): International Fleet Review, Exercise PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

Captain Clement E Atebi, CO NNS Thunder, greets Lieutenant Shane Cook. (photo: LEUT Tim Martin)
Captain Clement E Atebi, CO NNS Thunder, greets Lieutenant Shane Cook.

Lieutenant Shane ‘Cooky’ Cook is a real ambassador for promoting cultural exchange. Having recently completed a PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP deployment, he is now aboard Nigerian Navy Ship (NSS) Thunder as Visiting Ship’s Liaison Officer, and helping to acquaint his African friends with Australia.

NSS Thunder is participating in the International Fleet Review 2013 and is currently in Jervis Bay.

“Just a week since we departed Fremantle, bound for Jervis Bay, we had transited the Great Australian Bight and Bass Strait far enough behind some bad weather to make for pleasant sailing.

“The schedule changed due to delays and the port visit to Hobart was replaced with spending a total of nine nights in Fremantle, my home town.

“I took two busloads of crew from the NNS Thunder to see the sights, including the AFL Preliminary Final broadcast at the Mess,” LEUT Cook said.

Visits to HMA Ships Stirling and Toowoomba were also arranged for the crew from NSS Thunder. LEUT Cook said that he enjoyed the cultural differences, and plans to give a cultural brief for their Australian visit.

Continuing on from his recent PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP deployment, LEUT Cook has begun his linguistic journey into the local dialects of Nigeria, having learned the basics from the first of the three dominant languages on the ship.

On board of NNS Thunder a common language was found in a shared passion for music.

“The highlight of the port visit was when my civilian band came aboard NNS Thunder, and together with the embarked Nigerian Navy Band performed for each other, jammed together. We had the crew (CO included) up and dancing in the hanger, on a night with 50km/h winds - my band wondered if we had set sail!

“What a buzz to get my band and my ship together,” LEUT Cook said.

LEUT Cook’s primary qualifications of Maritime Trade Operations (MTO) and Operational Logistics, his Liaison Officer Duties, and varied overseas deployments have put him in good stead for this role.

“This role is personally and professionally rewarding; we were told it would be a highlight of our careers. So far, in or out of the Navy, this is seriously the best job I’ve ever had.”

Hamilton Class frigate NNS Thunder at anchor in Jervis Bay to prepare for the transit to Sydney for the International Fleet Review.

Hamilton Class frigate NNS Thunder at anchor in Jervis Bay to prepare for the transit to Sydney for the International Fleet Review.