The inaugural maritime exercise between Australia and India, AUSINDEX15, recently held off India, provided an exciting opportunity for a select few to sample life in the others' Navy.
Cross-decking is a custom practised by navies all over the world; it provides both personal and professional development for those fortunate enough to be selected and a great sign of diplomacy and trust between countries.
HMAS Sirius had the pleasure of accommodating Lieutenant Aravirnd Bhat of the Indian Navy, and in return Lieutenant Arthur Jagiello, the Signals Communications Officer was embarked in Indian Navy Ship Shakti.
Reflecting on his time on India’s newest battle tanker, Lieutenant Jagiello said it was a opportunity to experience first-hand what life is like on an Indian warship.
"The cross deck allowed us to act as liaison officers and helped to breakdown the language barrier so that both navies were able to effectively overcome difficulties and differences in interpretation and get the most out of the exercise," he said.
On board Sirius, Lieutenant Bhat proved a valuable member of the team. During Replenishment at Sea he provided advice to the Sirius team on what the Indian warship would be expecting, which ensured that the evolution ran smoothly.
Indian sweets were sent over during the evolution as a gift and Lieutenant Bhat educated the ship’s company about the local treat; namely gulab jamoon, a sweet, coconut covered Indian pastry. Lieutenant Bhat was also a handy tour guide to the local port of Visakhapatnam, by providing advice on Indian culture, language, politics, and customs.
The cross-decking activity not only provided the individuals themselves with a memorable experience of life in another Navy but was also a key contributor to the overall success of the inaugural exercise. A significant milestone for both countries, the exercise strengthened relationships and furthered the ability to undertake regional joint and combined operations such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the future.