Sub Lieutenant Stephanie Baulch can’t quite believe her luck. Less than a year after completing a language course in Indonesia she is back again, and ready to put her language skills to the ultimate test.
Sub Lieutenant Baulch is the Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer on board HMAS Arunta which has joined HMAS Sirius in Surabaya for Exercise NEW HORIZON - the most important Naval exercise the Royal Australian Navy holds with the Indonesian Navy.
"I spent six months on exchange as an Australian Defence Force Academy student at the School of Languages in Jakarta until late last year," Sub Lieutenant Baulch said.
"We had a great time and it eventually got easier, but coming back means I have to test out my language skills."
"It’s pretty daunting but the Indonesians we have met since our arrival have been very supportive.
"They are just as keen to practice their English on me as I am to speak Indonesian to them."
HMAS Arunta’s Commanding Officer Cameron Steil says his crew were looking forward to working with their Indonesian colleagues.
"Our relationship in general remains one of the most important that we have in this region," Commander Steil said.
"The activities we will undertake together will allow us to operate more closely with each other to better protect our maritime interests.
"We share a common determination to keep our waterways secure."
Commanding Officer HMAS Sirius, Commander Darren Grogan agreed that the exercise provided a perfect opportunity to improve regional relationships.
"NEW HORIZON is an annual exercise but we very much appreciate the chance to work with our close neighbours," Commander Grogan said.
"This sort of interaction could indeed lead to new opportunities for both our navies."
NEW HORIZON is taking place from 9-12 November. The sea phase will feature a number of complex evolutions including replenishments at sea, a long range surface exercise and gunnery live firing. The aim of each activity is to improve interoperability between the navies.
Arunta and Sirius will then head home after concluding a two and a half month long tour of the Asian region.