Port Services deliver for Exercise Kakadu

Published on LEUT James McPherson (author), LEUT Geoff Long (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra, Exercise KAKADU

Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Darren Walker from Port Services Darwin, at his office on HMAS Coonawarra during Exercise Kakadu 2018. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Darren Walker from Port Services Darwin, at his office on HMAS Coonawarra during Exercise Kakadu 2018.

Providing logistics and berthing support to the 27 nations and 23 ships taking part in Exercise Kakadu has not fazed the Port Services team at HMAS Coonawarra, which already supports the Royal Australian Navy’s busiest port in terms of ship movements.

For Kakadu 2018, the Port Services team is hosting patrol boat forces from Fiji and Tonga as well as providing support to all other nations operating out of Darwin. The exercise demonstrated the benefits of a flexible and well-trained workforce.

Wharf Manager, Chief Petty Officer Darren Walker, said the ability to call up extra resources from Fleet Base West and other naval bases in the south had been critical to its performance.

“The additional staff who have come up have had all of the appropriate high-risk work licences to operate in the space. So we’ve used experienced sailors to come up and be able to slot seamlessly in and be effective from the outset,” CPO Walker said.

“The port services and logistics support we provide to our partners ensures more countries from our region are able to participate in the exercise.”

Port Services is providing a wide range of support and logistics for Kakadu, including berthing and anchorages through to fuelling barges, cranes and forklifts to move stores, water supplies and the removal of waste.

CPO Walker said that dealing with foreign navies was a regular part of the job.

“We frequently berth international ships up here all year round, so we’re dealing with people from other cultures and languages regularly.”

“Anything we can do to assist them, I believe, makes a successful contribution,” he said.