A Royal Australian Navy Minehunter Task Group, consisting of HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, has departed the Republic of Korea bound for a second Mine Warfare Exercise and professional engagement with Japan, as part of a North East Asian Deployment.
In a sign of the friendships established during their visit, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) Band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and crews from the ROKN Mine Warfare units formed up on the wharf to farewell Diamantina and Gascoyne and wish them safe travels.
The departure was the end of a busy two week period during which both vessels and a Command Task Group element joined ten nations in a Multinational Mine Warfare Symposium and Exercise (MIWEX 19).
Commanding Officer of HMAS Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Sean Aitken, said that the visit to Korean has been a valuable opportunity to develop skills and enhance key regional relationships.
“This has been a very productive engagement and both ships have gained valuable experience in the Mine Warfare arena by operating with different units in challenging environments,” Lieutenant Commander Aitken said.
“There wasn’t much down time but the crew was fortunate to enjoy our final days in Busan.”
During the final port visit in Busan, members of both crews visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery. The Memorial is the largest UN Cemetery and is the final resting place of 2300 of the fallen from the Korean War, including 281 Australians.
The crew members paused for a minutes silence at the Australian Monument in respect of all the UN personnel and laid flowers in honour of the Australians buried at the memorial.
It was a solemn occasion for the Commanding Officer of HMAS Diamantina, Lieutenant Commander Darren McDevitt.
“You feel sadness for the young lives that have fallen but also pride for the sacrifice these Australians made for the United Nations,” Lieutenant Commander McDevitt said.
Diamantina and Gascoyne are now heading north to Japanese waters on their way to take part in further exercises with regional partners.
“On our voyage along the west coast of Japan we will travel further north than any Australian Navy Minehunter has ever gone,” Lieutenant Commander McDevitt said.
“This is a significant achievement and a positive demonstration of the Minehunter capability,” Lieutenant Commander Aitken said.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20192686.