This month, crew members from USS Chicago took time out from their normal duties to conduct community engagement and provide a helping hand at the Cohunu Koala Park in Byford, Western Australia.
The United States submariners, along with some Australian crew members from HMAS Farncomb and trainee submariners from the Submarine Training Systems Centre, assisted the wildlife park with various handyman tasks. They contributed through conducting daily chores including feeding local wildlife residents, cleaning out animal cages and tidying up the general grounds of the park.
The main task of the day was to assist the park in the construction of an enclosure for fresh water crocodiles.
A typical Aussie BBQ was enjoyed at the end of the day’s work and much to the delight of the American sailors, the wildlife park keepers brought the koalas out of their enclosures for a good close up cuddle.
The work carried out by the united forces attracted the attention of Ms Cynthia Griffin, United States Consul General in Perth, who also took time away from her busy schedule to make a surprise appearance at the park.
Australian submariner, Able Seaman Todd Williams said that there were numerous sailors from USS Chicago jumping at the opportunity to spend some time in an Australian wildlife park.
“Most of the Americans hadn’t seen Australian wildlife,” he said.
The chance to help out at the Cohunu Koala Park enabled both American and Aussie sailors to get closer to the animals then they normally would.
“Getting to handle some of the animals was fantastic and it made the work that we had done throughout the day particularly rewarding,” said Able Seaman Williams.
“The chance to spend time with sailors from another Navy was also great,” he said.
“Days like this one give you the opportunity to make some new friends and you never know when or where you are going to run into them again.”
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131234.