Enhanced Regional Engagement, PNG - HMA Ships Mermaid and Paluma

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Samuel Penfold (author), ABCIS Dylan White-Jennings (photographer)

Location(s): Simpson Harbour, PNG

Topic(s): HMAS Mermaid (A02), HMAS Paluma (A01)

Ship’s company from HMA Ships Mermaid and Paluma assisting staff at the Rabaul Cenotaph. (photo: ABCIS Dylan White-Jennings)
Ship’s company from HMA Ships Mermaid and Paluma assisting staff at the Rabaul Cenotaph.

The crews of Royal Australian Navy survey motor launches HMA Ships Mermaid and Paluma have been busy enhancing an important regional relationship during a recent port visit to Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

The two sister ships made their four-day port visit to Simpson Harbour as part of Australia’s Enhanced Regional Engagement program.

Commanding Officers of both ships began by visiting the Rabaul cenotaph to pay respects to the fallen before meeting with the cenotaph’s curator.

A working bee the following morning saw both Ship’s Companies eagerly mowing, slashing and clearing surrounding vegetation at the sacred memorial before pausing to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices made by many during past conflicts.

Rabaul, a province rich in military history, contains many war relics including ships, aircraft, weapons and abandoned gunnery positions, as well as tunnels throughout the area.

Commanding officer HMAS Mermaid, Lieutenant Commander Paul Savage, noted the significance of the visit – the third to Papua New Guinea by the survey motor launches under the Enhanced Regional Engagement initiative.

“This visit demonstrated the continued value we place on the long-standing Defence relationship between our two nations – a relationship forged through our shared history and close geography,” he said.

The command teams also visited the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management Division, talking at length with the Assistant Director, Mr Ima Itikarai.

Mr Itikarai explained the role of the observatory and showed recent data collected from Mount Ulawun, an active volcano located approximately 150kms west of Rabaul, which erupted during the visit.