Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has been highlighted this week by a visit to the port city of Surabaya, Indonesia, by the Anzac frigate HMAS Arunta and replenishment ship HMAS Sirius. The ships are participating in Exercise NEW HORIZON - the most important maritime activity of its kind between the Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL), or Indonesian Navy, and the Royal Australian Navy.
The ships arrived amid much fanfare. Their Indonesian Navy hosts went to great lengths to ensure the Australians felt most welcome with an official ceremony, reception and a sport day dominating the harbour phase. But it was the crew’s interaction with the younger generation personnel which left one of the most lasting impressions.
Both HMA Ships Sirius and Arunta hosted several parties of cadets or ‘Taruna’. Midshipman Ashleigh Hill was among those to accompany the cadets on their visit to Arunta.
"To begin with everyone seemed very serious," Midshipman Hill said.
"But it didn’t take long for them to relax and feel comfortable.
"The language barrier made things a little difficult at times but a smile and a handshake seemed to go a long way and by the end of it, they were laughing and joking around just like we would."
The Australian sense of humour would have been familiar to some of the locals. A number of the cadets had recently been to Australia on an Australian Defence exchange program where they had visited a number of Defence establishments including the Defence Force Academy in Canberra, and HMAS Creswell, on the New South Wales south coast.
The business end of Exercise NEW HORIZON will be during the sea phase with a series of maritime evolutions and activities planned to improve communication and interaction between the navies. These will include refuelling and live fire exercises in the Java Sea.
The Australian ships will then head home after a two and a half month deployment to Asia.