The first Royal Australian Navy ship to visit Fiji since 2006 has completed a six day port visit to Suva.
Commanding Officer HMAS Leeuwin, Lieutenant Commander Richard Mortimer says his ship’s company of 65 have been working alongside the Defence Forces of Fiji.
“While in Suva, we conducted joint training with the Republic of Fiji Navy, concentrating on hydrography and navigation skills as well as damage control. We provided them with tours of Leeuwin and in turn visited their survey facilities.”
“Today we depart Suva and will spend close to a month surveying waters around Fiji, including Rotuma Island with the Fijian Navy,” Lieutenant Commander Mortimer said.
The information gathered by his ship’s company will be delivered to the Republic of Fiji Hydrographic Service as well as the Australian Hydrographic Service in Wollongong for analysis.
“The ocean around the Rotuma Islands has not been surveyed. The data we collect will be used by hydrographers to update charts. This is important as it will provide mariners with confidence to operate in these waters and boost trade and tourism in the region,” Lieutenant Commander Mortimer said.
“Leeuwin is extremely fortunate to visit Fiji. My crew are enjoying strengthening ties with an important South Pacific Navy and seeing first hand the beautiful Fijian Islands.
“The work we will do together will produce vital nautical charting information, but more importantly, it will create friendships,” Lieutenant Commander Mortimer said.
Leeuwin is currently deployed on a three month south-west Pacific deployment. Prior to visiting Fiji, the Leeuwin Class Hydrographic Survey ship visited Tonga supporting the Governor General at the Coronation of the King of Tonga.
The ship has also participated in a tri-lateral Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission patrol with New Zealand and France. This patrol was conducted upon the high seas and adjacent Economic Exclusion Zones between New Zealand, New Caledonia and the east coast of Australia to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operators undermining migratory fish stocks in the region.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20151947.