Indian Ocean friendships formed and reinforced

Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Location(s): Port Louis, Mauritius

Her Excellency Ms Susan Coles, Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of Mauritius, and Commanding Officer HMAS Anzac, Captain Mal Wise, RAN, call on the Prime Minister of Mauritius, The Right Honourable Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Kt, GCSK, KCMG, QC, MNA, while the ship conducts a port visit to Port Louis, Mauritius. (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
Her Excellency Ms Susan Coles, Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of Mauritius, and Commanding Officer HMAS Anzac, Captain Mal Wise, RAN, call on the Prime Minister of Mauritius, The Right Honourable Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Kt, GCSK, KCMG, QC, MNA, while the ship conducts a port visit to Port Louis, Mauritius.

Mauritius turned on a very warm welcome for HMAS Anzac when the Australian Navy frigate stopped in the island nation’s capital for a port visit recently. 

Approaching Port Louis Harbour, Anzac was escorted by the Mauritian Coast Guard ship CGV Barracuda, and as Anzac came alongside, further signs of Mauritian hospitality could be seen and heard, with the Police Band of Mauritius performing ‘Waltzing Matilda’ to mark the first visit by an Australian Warship in 14 years. 

Waiting on the wharf was Australia’s High Commissioner in Mauritius, Her Excellency Ms Susan Coles. 

“Anzac’s visit to Mauritius was an exciting opportunity to reinforce the strong partnerships that are continually being built between these two Indian Ocean nations," she said.

“The Indian Ocean is a vast ‘global commons’, playing a critical role in the environmental, economic and geopolitical prosperity of the region. 

“Mauritius is a leader in recognising and promoting the role of the ‘blue economy’, and the roles Australia and Mauritius play in the region are vital,” she said. 

The visit was marked by a series of engagements, at the senior governmental and grassroots levels, including official calls by the Commanding Officer, Captain Mal Wise, on the President, Her Excellency Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, and the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Anerood Jugnauth. 

“It is clear that Mauritius values the partnership with Australia, with a number of cooperative maritime safety and marine environment initiatives being held in high regard by both the President and the Prime Minister. 

“We were honoured when Her Excellency Dr Guris-Fakim attended our Official Reception, and spoke to the assembled Mauritian, Australian and international guests about the relationship, and the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean. 

“The Australian Navy looks forward to continuing to build this relationship through fora like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium,” Captain Wise said. 

Another key area of cooperation involves raising the profile, and career prospects, of women serving in uniform, with the Australian High Commission and Australian Federal Agent Tina Westra having initiated the ‘Women in Uniform Network’ in Mauritius, a group which brings together women serving in policing, the National Coast Guard, fire brigade, corrections and nursing. 

Together with the Australian High Commission, Anzac hosted a ‘Women in Uniform’ mentoring session, lead by Lieutenant Commander Amanda Frape and Warrant Officer Samantha Morgan. 

“Some 18.9 percent of the officers and sailors of the Australian Navy are women, with Anzac being a little higher at 21.7 percent, with women in key roles at all levels of the ship," Lieutenant Commander Frape said.

“The numbers are progressively increasing in Navy and the Australian Defence Force as a whole. 

“To share our experiences with female colleagues has been a great opportunity, and it was amazing to hear that senior promotion opportunities have opened up to Mauritian women since the Women in Uniform Network was founded – it is certainly a testament to those that had the foresight to set the group up,” Lieutenant Commander Frape said. 

Anzac’s NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment has been marked by a series of commemorative services as part of the Centenary of Anzac. 

In Mauritius the final such service was held at the Phoenix Cemetery where Australian Navy Bandsman Arnold Pearce Partington is buried after having died during the Second World War when a member of HMAS Canberra 's ship's company. 

In addition to commemorating Bandsman Partington, the service also paid tribute to a number of Mauritian-Australians who served in the Australian armed forces during the two World Wars, including at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. 

A beach sports day was also held with teams from the National Coast Guard of Mauritius competing against the Anzac crew in beach volleyball, soccer and paddle-boarding. 

Ship’s tours were held for a variety of groups, including one for children from the ‘SOS Children’s Village’ initiative, a leading child care Non-Governmental Organisation which provides long-term care to needy children. Anzac’s ship’s welfare fund made a donation of $1,000 to support the initiative. 

Anzac’s NORTHERN TRIDENT deployment has focused on commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, building interoperability with allies and strengthening Australian links to international communities.