Rendezvous at sea

Published on LEUT Keith Whitehead (author), French Navy Photographer (photographer), LEUT Keith Whitehead (photographer)

French Ship Vendemiaire sails alongside HMAS Diamantina during in company training at sea.

 (photo: French Navy Photographer)
French Ship Vendemiaire sails alongside HMAS Diamantina during in company training at sea.

French Navy ship FS Vendemiaire and HMAS Diamantina had a sea-borne rendezvous on 29 October, conducting exercises prior to visiting the port of Darwin.

Vendemiaire is undertaking a two month regional deployment around SE Asia.  The corvette was keen to interact with Royal Australian Navy units for valuable training and to improve interoperability between the navies.

Vendemiaire is an A69 class frigate based in Noumea, New Caledonia.  Her main role involves maritime patrols which focus on fisheries monitoring, security and crime.  In addition to her main gun, she also has twin 20mm cannons and can achieve a top speed of 24 knots.

Diamantina made an early rendezvous with Vendemiaire north of the Tiwi islands approx 120nm north- east of Darwin.  The first event of the day was a flying serial which included winching to facilitate a personnel transfer.  The French helicopter, an Alouette III, dropped off two sailors and then winched up two members of Diamantina’s crew.  These personnel were then hosted on each ship for the remainder of the day, which enabled them to have a first hand insight into how each ship operated. 

Under the watchful eye of the Helicopter Director, Lieutenant Georgina Rae, Vendemiaire's Aerospatiale Alouette III helicopter transfers one of her crew to HMAS Diamantina while underway.

Under the watchful eye of the Helicopter Director, Lieutenant Georgina Rae, Vendemiaire's Aerospatiale Alouette III helicopter transfers one of her crew to HMAS Diamantina while underway.

The French personnel each had a guide of the same rank and specialisation, who provided a tour of Diamantina, including the engineering spaces and other key areas.  In addition to witnessing the planned evolutions, it also enabled both groups to find out how they each did their business, share ideas and of course sample the culture of the respective navies.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Edson Tango-sella who spent the day on board the French warship felt priviledged to participate.

“The helicopter transfer on toVendemiaire  was amazing, they had a friendly atmosphere, professional work ethic, great morale and last, but not least, delicious food!" he said.

The in-company transit allowed time for the ships to conduct replenishment at sea approaches, a necessary skill required by all warships to facilitate the transfer of fuel, provisions or personnel whilst underway. 

They also practiced communications and station keeping, officer of the watch manoeuvres using signal flags to coordinate the serial and each manoeuvre. 

On completion of an excellent day’s training, Diamantina proceeded to Darwin Naval Base to conduct a logistics visit prior to resuming her Operation RESOLUTE tasking.