Wollongong sails for paradise

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jarrod Chesher (author), ABIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Location(s): Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Topic(s): HMAS Wollongong (P92)

Lieutenant Mark Doggett on the bridge wing of HMAS Wollongong as they sail across the Arafeura Sea.  (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Lieutenant Mark Doggett on the bridge wing of HMAS Wollongong as they sail across the Arafeura Sea.

HMAS Wollongong set sail for Port Moresby this month to take part in Exercise PARADISE - an annual event aimed at strengthening ties between the Royal Australian and Papua New Guinean navies.
Commanding Officer of the Armidale class patrol boat, Lieutenant Commander Scott Wilson, said Australia's closest neighbour was an important partner in maintaining regional security.
“Any opportunity to conduct training and enhance interoperability will contribute to continued stability in our region,” Lieutenant Commander Wilson said.
Members of the Australian Navy’s in-house training and assessment team, Sea Training Group, will travel with Wollongong to support the crews from both countries.
Skills taught over the week-long exercise will include tactical communications, surveillance, force protection, seamanship, navigation, boarding operations and gunnery.
Executive Officer, Lieutenant Mark Doggett, said his crew and boat were well prepared.
“The new single crewing construct on Armidale boats has allowed the crew to prepare for the exercise without the complication of having to change platforms,” Lieutenant Doggett said. 
"As a result, Wollongong proceeds to the exercise in the best possible shape."
This will be the first time in Papua New Guinea for many members of Wollongong's ship's company.  
Seaman Marine Technician Matthew Sexton said the visit would remain with him for a lifetime.
“I grew up listening to stories of the bravery of Australians during the Second World War in Papua New Guinea and, in particular, on the Kokoda Track," he said.
"The opportunity to visit the country and the Bomana War Cemetery, where I will pay my respects to the fallen, will remain with me for a lifetime,” he said.
Bomana Cemetery in Port Moresby is the largest war cemetery in the Pacific, with almost 4,000 graves.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jackson Voges looked forward to putting his training to the test in Papua New Guinea.
“We have trained and worked tirelessly all year and now have the perfect opportunity to showcase our skills on the international stage,” he said.
entered service in 2007 and, along with her 13 sister boats, are the Royal Australian Navy's principal contribution to the nation's fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations.