HMAS Sirius recently conducted a port visit to Da Nang, Vietnam, to further strengthen Australian Defence relations with the Vietnam People's Navy. Australia’s close Defence cooperation with Vietnam dates back to 1998 and forms an important part of the broader bilateral relationship.
It was a busy port visit for Sirius with numerous official engagements to attend. A highlight was a friendly volleyball match between members of the Sirius ship’s company and personnel from the locals from Brigade 161. It was a hotly contested game with both teams demonstrating a high level of prowess; however it was the Vietnamese who came out on top. The two teams then swapped players to play a truly international match. Despite the language barrier, the newly formed teams quickly worked out their tactics and completed a friendly, but competitive encounter.
Over thirty Vietnamese representatives and consular officials were treated to some Australian hospitality when Sirius hosted an official reception. There was some unique Australian cuisine on the menu such as emu pies and kangaroo skewers; however undoubtedly the most memorable part of the night was when indigenous member of Sirius's ship's company, Petty Officer Communication and Information Systems Samuel Sheppard, of the Doonooch tribe, performed the Karju welcome dance. The welcome was followed by a Ceremonial Sunset conducted by members of ship’s company.
"I am very proud of my aboriginal heritage and it was a pleasure performing my tribes dance in front of such an appreciative audience," Petty Officer Sheppard said.
"The traditional music is always ready to go on my iPad whenever the opportunity presents!"
The crew took some of their off duty time to undertake cultural tours of the old town of Hoi-An, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Leading Seaman Communications and Information Systems James Dunn said the port visit was memorable.
"I loved every minute of it – best port I have ever visited," Leading Seaman Dunn said.
"The Vietnamese people are the most friendly and kind people I have met anywhere in the world."
The visit to Vietnam reinforced Australia’s commitment to provide regional security and stability, through our cooperation on counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and maritime security issues in the area. Sirius conducted a passage exercise with the Vietnam People's Navy before joining HMA Ships Arunta and Stuart for an interaction with French Navy Ship Vendemiaire.