All at sea in Timor Leste

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jessica O'Brien (author), LEUT Jessica O'Brien (photographer)

Location(s): Dili, Timor Leste

Phase III Maritime Warfare Officer Sub Lieutenant McKay assists a member of the F-FDTL with their navigation skills. (photo: Leut Jessica O'Brien)
Phase III Maritime Warfare Officer Sub Lieutenant McKay assists a member of the F-FDTL with their navigation skills.

HMAS Huon has conducted an official visit to Dili, Timor Leste, in support of the 40th Anniversary of Falantil Day.

As part of the visit, Huon hosted 12 members of the naval component of the Falantil-Forcas Defensa Timor Leste for a sea training day as part of the Defence Cooperation Program.

Ship’s company were excited to contribute to the development of the Component and further strengthen the friendship between the Australian Defence Force and Timor Leste.

The Timorese members embarked were mostly Officers-of-the-Watch or Marine Technicians with one Clearance Diver and one Chef, all keen to learn as much as possible from their Australian counterparts during the short period onboard.

Upon sailing, Huon proceeded to the north of Dili and demonstrated a man overboard exercise for her guests. On completion of the exercise a few of the visitors were excited to be sea riders during ‘touch-and-go’ approaches in the sea boat alongside Huon.

After recovering the sea boat, the ship rolled into damage control exercises. Huon’s Operations and Damage Control Officer Lieutenant Geoffrey Crane was happy to assist, with personnel donning breathing apparatus and firesuits, and handling hoses.

“Despite the language gap, the guys were keen to get hands on and take away as much as possible from the few short hours they were embarked,” Lieutenant Crane said

“They really got into it, were enthusiastic and had a great attitude.”

From there the group was paired up with their departments for the rest of the day's activities. Some were given the opportunity to work with Huon’s bridge team and learn about navigation equipment whilst the Marine Technicians had a tour of the machine control and engine room by Huon’s Technical Officer Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Joshua Bignell.  

“The guys were very curious about the technology in the Machinery Control Room, especially the monitoring and control systems.  

"These are significantly advanced from their own systems they have onboard their patrol boats,” Chief Petty Officer Joshua Bignell said

“On the more practical level, they were keen to get involved with emergency drills, especially the steering gear failure.”

Lieutenant Zacharias Vidigal Executive Officer of Timorese Patrol Boat NRTL Jaco said his team enjoyed the day and was excited to be a part of the transit to Darwin with Huon.

“I am looking forward to the trip to Darwin and to learn more about seamanship and navigation, to apply to my role in Jaco,” Lieutenant Vitigal said

“This ship is much larger then Jaco and I particularly enjoyed the food today.”

Huon will take one Timorese Officer of the Watch and one Chef to Darwin to assist them with the development of navigation and seamanship skills and catering and cooking.

The sea training day wrapped up a successful port visit for Huon. The ship supported the 40th anniversary of Falantil Day celebrations and conducted renovations at a local girls' orphanage.  The crew also used this time to explore Timor – most notably with visits to war memorials from the Second World War and runs to Cirsto Rei (27m high statue of Jesus Christ).

Huon is conducting a three month Operation RESOLUTE deployment in Australia’s northern waters.