As part of her deployment in Asia and the Pacific, HMAS Melbourne recently conducted visits to the Japanese ports of Sasebo and Yokosuka.
Port visits are an important part of RAN activities allowing logistics fulfilment and providing a variety of opportunities to engage with host nations.
Lieutenant Commander Adrian Scott, Executive Officer, Melbourne outlined what these particular port visits involved.
“These visits have given us the opportune chance to communicate face-to-face with senior naval personnel with one of our closest regional partners,” Lieutenant Commander Scott said.
“We’ve also been able to share with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force insights into the day-to-day way we each live and work by conducting reciprocal ships’ tours and official receptions on different ships.”
The Japanese visits have also provided a unique opportunity for many aboard Melbourne who have never seen this part of the world.
“The crew has been working hard while we’ve been away so these visits have allowed some respite and the chance for many to experience Japan and its culture for the first time,” Lieutenant Commander Scott said.
Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Operations Britni Martin experienced several highlights during her first visit to Japan.
“In Yokosuka there was an official reception on the Japanese Ship Takanami,” Seaman Martin said.
“Everyone was very nice. The Japanese hospitality, attention to detail in their food presentation and ceremonial displays were amazing.”
Melbourne crew members got to interact further with their Japanese counterparts at the event through the time-honoured traditions of trading coins, patches and other items.
The reciprocal ships tours were also popular with many commenting on the similarities between Australian and Japanese ships. A noticeable differences on some Japanese ships though was the inclusion of an ‘onsen’ – a large hot bath for washing and relaxing, traditionally found in areas of Japan with natural hot springs.
With a few days in port in Yokosuka, Melbourne’s crew had the chance to explore Japan more widely from quieter more rural areas to the nation’s capital.
For some it was the chance to see the bright lights, hustle and bustle that Tokyo is famous for.
“I got to experience Tokyo, and along the way the greenery everywhere and the pretty architecture,” Seaman Martin said.
“I also got to go to Disneyland which really is the happiest place on earth.”
These recent visits were two of many routine engagements that the Royal Australian Navy conducts throughout the Pacific, Asia and around the globe.
Before decommissioning later in the year, Melbourne is undertaking a final overseas deployment during April-June 2019, visiting the North West Pacific and East Asian regions, in support of international engagement in the region.