Fiji uses Kakadu exercises to boost joint capability

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Glenelg (P96), Exercise KAKADU

Commanding Officer HMAS Glenelg, Lieutenant Commander Jorge McKee speaks with the Commanding Officer Republic of Fiji Navy Ship (RFNS) Kikau, Lieutenant Commander Joseva Tunidau, while alongside HMAS Coonawarra during Exercise Kakadu 2018. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
Commanding Officer HMAS Glenelg, Lieutenant Commander Jorge McKee speaks with the Commanding Officer Republic of Fiji Navy Ship (RFNS) Kikau, Lieutenant Commander Joseva Tunidau, while alongside HMAS Coonawarra during Exercise Kakadu 2018.

The Republic of Fiji Navy ship Kikau will use the sea phase of Kakadu 2018 to work alongside regional partners including Australia and Tonga to boost joint capability.

This is the first time that the Fijian Navy has participated in the bi-annual Kakadu regional exercise, although it has previously attended as an observer.

Commanding Officer Kikau, Lieutenant Commander Joseva Tunidau said that the Kakadu joint activities had direct benefits to the ship’s role at home and for future regional emergency operations.

“We will be doing some boarding scenarios side-by-side with the Australian patrol boat crews so we can learn how other navies do things.

“This is one of the biggest exercises we’ve done and we’re still a developing navy, so we are learning and improving our skills all the time,” LCDR Tunidau said.

Other joint exercises planned for the sea phase over the next week include search and rescue activities, replenishments at sea, towing and ship handling.

Lieutenant Commander Jorge McKeeCommanding Officer of Armidale class patrol boat HMAS Glenelg, said Kakadu provided an exceptional training opportunity for all partners due to the level of complexity involved.

“All of us have a common interest in maintaining peace and prosperity across the Pacific region.

“Australia and our regional partners all face similar problems which include illegal fishing and threats to maritime trade. 

“Working together builds our collective ability to respond to events,” LCDR McKee said. 

The Republic of Fiji Navy ship Kikau arrived in Darwin from Cairns, where she recently underwent a significant overhaul at the Norship shipyard. The crew then spent time at HMAS Cairns preparing for Kakadu 2018.

Following completion of the exercise, Kikau will return to its home base in Suva, Fiji in late September.