Patrol Boat crew reflects on a memorable visit to Myanmar

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Jo Dilorenzo (author and photographer)

Location(s): Yangon, Myanmar

Crew members of Ardent Six take photos of the Shwedagon Pagoda during their port visit onboard HMAS Childers to Yangon, Myanmar. (photo: LSIS Jo Dilorenzo)
Crew members of Ardent Six take photos of the Shwedagon Pagoda during their port visit onboard HMAS Childers to Yangon, Myanmar.

The Myanmar Navy played host to the ship’s company of HMAS Childers last week, when the Armidale class Patrol Boat (ACPB) conducted a rare and significant port visit to Yangon, Myanmar.

It had been over fifty years since the last Royal Australian Navy vessel had conducted a port visit to Yangon, with the previous significant occasion marked by HMAS Quiberon in 1959.

The Myanmar Navy band plays on the wharf as HMAS Childers comes alongside Yangon in Myanmar.

The Myanmar Navy band plays on the wharf as HMAS Childers comes alongside Yangon in Myanmar.

The crew of Childers made the most of the rare experience spending four days in Yangon learning about the culture and exploring the region.  

For many members of Childers this was their first overseas deployment since joining the Navy. 

One particular crew member that revelled in the experience is Marine Technician, Able Seaman Ricky Schein, who before this trip hadn’t left Australia. 

“Myanmar has out-done my expectations; the place is amazing, there’s so much to see and do,” AB Schein said.

“The local people have been so welcoming and helpful that even though my Burmese is poor the Myanmar people understand enough English to get by.”

The Myanmar Navy held friendly sporting competitions, shared the local cuisine and hosted daily tours to iconic locations around Yangon, ensuring it was an event to remember for the Australian crew.

Seaman Jeremy Watson shows a Myanmar Navy sailor HMAS Childers gun during an open day for the Myanmar Navy in Yangon, Myanmar.

Seaman Jeremy Watson shows a Myanmar Navy sailor HMAS Childers gun during an open day for the Myanmar Navy in Yangon, Myanmar.

Daily tours included visits to the Shwedagong Pagoda, Gem Market, Navy Headquarters and other tourist attractions around the area.

Leading Seaman Christian Duncan extended his gratitude to the Yangon locals and Myanmar Navy who he described as extremely hospitable in assisting the Australian crew where they could, despite the language barrier.

“The people there were so friendly, always smiling or waving at us,” LS Duncan said, “the Myanmar Navy were very proud to show off their lovely country to our crew.” 

Childers opened her decks and welcomed new friends from the Myanmar Navy to view the ACPB and sample some Aussie treats, freshly prepared by the Maritime Logistic Chefs onboard.

Crew members of Ardent VI with Myanmar Navy personnel at the Shwedagon Pagoda during HMAS Childers port visit to Yangon in Myanmar.

Crew members of Ardent VI with Myanmar Navy personnel at the Shwedagon Pagoda during HMAS Childers port visit to Yangon in Myanmar.

After experiencing the local cuisine during a number of memorable dining experiences, Able Seaman Alex Shears was proud to take the opportunity to return the favour and share Australian culture through his cooking skills.

“After everything the Myanmar Navy had done for our crew it was the least we could do, showing them a little piece of Australia and allowing them to taste a part of Oz,” AB Shears said.

Commanding Officer of Ardent Six, Lieutenant Commander Christopher Brough said it was an honour to be the first Australian ship to visit in many years.

“The crew and I have had a fantastic time during this opportunity to share experiences and ideas with the Myanmar Navy,” said LCDR Brough, “we have experienced something rare in this visit and will take home many great memories.”

Although it was a sad departure for the new friends of the Myanmar Navy and Childers crew, Ardent Six, they will reunite next month off the Andaman Islands for Exercise MILAN 2014.

Ardent Six has now moved on to the second port of their deployment: Chittagong, Bangladesh.

More imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140083