HMAS Parramatta conducted a port visit to Noumea, New Caledonia as part of Operation SOLANIA which supports the policing of the Economic Exclusion Zones of Pacific Island countries. While in New Caledonia, Parramatta conducted exercises with French Navy Ship (FNS) Vendémaire, and other units based New Caledonia.
Parramatta’s Commanding Officer, Commander Simon Cannell said the visit will give the two countries the opportunity to work together, create greater ties and renew old acquaintances.
“Parramatta and Vendémaire have exercised together three times in the past twelve months including participation in the International Fleet Review in Sydney back in October 2013.
“From a Defence point of view, it offers great opportunities to strengthen regional security and police the seas and waters of our region.
“For my crew, this is the first time many have been to New Caledonia, and many have commented on how beautiful the country is, how friendly the people are, and what a great time they had.”
While ashore in Noumea, Parramatta’s ship’s company revelled in the hospitality of the local population and the French naval personnel through a wide range of activities.
One highlight was a ‘World Cup’ inspired football competition. Leading Seaman Michael Hirschausen said the match gave Parramatta an opportunity to show off their soccer skills.
“The soccer afternoon was a great opportunity to meet people from the French Navy, even though the sporting results for us weren’t great, we all had a fantastic time.”
Members of ship’s company were lucky enough to be given a tour of Noumea from local naval staff. They were given an extensive tour of the French Naval base, including a variety of mechanical and electrical workshops, as well as the Command building which housed a myriad of military memorabilia.
Parramatta is conducting a patrol through the South West Pacific to conduct regional engagement and conduct exercises with some of our nearest neighbours including New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Island over the next four weeks.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141876.