HMAS Leeuwin has conducted a series of Officer-of-the-Watch manoeuvres with Micronesian patrol boat FSS Independence and Palau patrol boat PSS Remeliik, off the coast of the Pacific island of Yap.
Leeuwin’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Mitchel Dupen, said this was likely the first time that Australian, Micronesian and Palau vessels had conducted the manoeuvres known as ‘OOWMANS’ together in the home waters of Micronesia.
He said it represented the strong bond that was being built between the three nations.
“This was an amazing prelude to our pilotage into Yap,” Lieutenant Dupen said.
“The two patrol boats appeared right on cue and their communications and execution of a set of OOWMANS were excellent, providing great training benefits to both the patrol boats and the bridge team in Leeuwin.
“It was a fantastic way to close out a busy period at sea,” he said.
Successful visits to both Palau and Micronesia earlier this year had helped to lay the ground work to enable this milestone between the three nations.
The recent combined activities with Micronesian and Palau vessels come on the heels of Leeuwin’s participation in the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Surigao Strait in the Philippines, where she conducted a series of manoeuvres with HMAS Stuart and the Philippine Navy Corvette BRP Conrado.
Leeuwin’s Commanding Officer Commander Richard Mortimer said that the last two weeks at sea had been extremely busy.
“Leeuwin has spent much of 2019 well away from her homeport of Cairns, engaging with our regional partners,” Commander Mortimer said.
“This heralds a new era for hydrographic ships, coupling their primary role of surveying with inter-operating with Australia’s island neighbours to the north.
“We’ll get back to Leeuwin’s core function before we arrive back home in late November by completing a brief and detailed survey in the Solomon Islands,” he said.
HMAS Leeuwin and her sister ship Melville are Navy’s two largest survey vessels and are homeported in Cairns.