International cooperation brings an international reunion

Published on LEUT Nicholas Robinson (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin

Topic(s): Exercises

(left) Executive Officer of HMAS Stuart, Lieutenant Commander Ben Dalton with Senior Lieutenant Colonel Francis Goh of the Republic of Singapore Navy onboard HMAS Stuart during Exercise KAKADU 2014.   (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
(left) Executive Officer of HMAS Stuart, Lieutenant Commander Ben Dalton with Senior Lieutenant Colonel Francis Goh of the Republic of Singapore Navy onboard HMAS Stuart during Exercise KAKADU 2014.

 As Exercise KAKADU fosters new international relations, one relationship that began 20 years ago at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) is getting a work up.

Lieutenant Commander Ben Dalton, Executive Officer HMAS Stuart, and Senior Lieutenant Colonel Francis Goh from Singapore, first met in 1994 as they commenced their respective military careers at ADFA.

Over the last 17 years they have sailed two different paths around the world that have now led back to Australia and crossed off the coast of Darwin.

Lieutenant Commander Dalton’s career has taken him from Canberra to California and from New Zealand to Iraq. Some of his postings have included serving as a Flag Lieutenant to Commander Australian Theatre, a Battle Watch Captain at Joint Australian Headquarters in Baghdad, a Fleet Gunnery Officer with Sea Training Group and as a Liaison Officer to the 3rd Fleet of the United States Navy.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Francis Goh, a Singaporean national, completed both his ADFA training and a Masters in Training and Development, here in Australia. After he left ADFA, he served as an Anti Submarine Warfare Officer in the Republic of Singapore Navy before becoming a Primary Warfare Officer on a Singaporean Navy Missile Corvette. He has served as a Commanding Officer of a Fearless class patrol ship, before spending three years at Head Quarters in Training Command.

Senior Lieutenant Goh is currently the Commanding Officer of the Missile Corvette, RSS Valiant.

“I remember Ben at HMAS Creswell. We took liberty leave together, and he showed me around Australia, particularly Sydney.

“We also served together on a training ship in Townsville, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Goh said.

Lieutenant Commander Dalton reflected on the value of such contacts.

“Beyond our own personal experiences, the long term regional benefits of these type of relationships are tangible.

“17 years later, Francis and I are able to reconnect and have discussions at senior level, based on our common training and shared experience.

“The coalition training that all ranks of the Royal Australian Navy undertake today will make sure we have prepared forces for operations tomorrow,” Lieutenant Commander Dalton said.

KAKADU is the RAN’s largest maritime warfare exercise for the year, occurring in and off the coast of Darwin, from the 25 August to 12 September 2014.