Plain sailing for naval diplomacy in Darwin

Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), POIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, NT

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Coonawarra, International Engagement

Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Commander Darren Rushworth centre, with the crew of the Indonesian Navy sail training vessel KRI Bima Suci, at the Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin, NT. (photo: POIS Peter Thompson)
Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Commander Darren Rushworth centre, with the crew of the Indonesian Navy sail training vessel KRI Bima Suci, at the Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin, NT.

The ability of naval diplomacy to strengthen bilateral defence ties was on show when Indonesian Navy tall ship KRI Bima Suci sailed into Darwin Harbour recently.

Bima Suci is on a four-month annual training voyage across the Indo-Pacific with more than 100 officer cadets.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Waluyo, said the visit to Australia could “only happen because of the good relationship between our two countries and navies.”

“Australia is not only a close neighbour, but also a good friend for Indonesia,” he said.

“We hope this goodwill visit by Bima Suci enhances the cooperation and strengthens the bond between Australia and Indonesia.”

Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra, Australia’s Navy base in the north, welcomed Lieutenant Colonel Waluyo and his crew.

Commander Darren Rushworth said the Indonesian Navy was a key partner of the Australian Navy, and together they promoted security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

“It’s important we maintain relationships and understand each other’s interests. 

“For the Indonesian sailors to see Darwin is a great opportunity to experience our home culture.

“For our junior officers to sail with the Indonesian cadets, it’s a life experience never forgotten and hopefully will form even stronger relationships between our navies into the future,” Commander Rushworth said.

Bima Suci is one of the world’s largest naval training sail ships.

It departed from its base at Surabaya in Indonesia on 5 August and visited the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. 

Five new Australian Navy officers joined Bima Suci for its most recent leg from Bali to Darwin.

Indonesian Consul in the Northern Territory, Mr Dicky Soerjanatamihardja, said the annual voyage was important because it introduced the cadets to different cultures and started the process of cooperation between nations.

“These cadets are the future of the Indonesian Navy and of Indonesia. The experience and interactions with other cultures will make all the cadets more broad minded,” he said.

After Darwin, Bima Suci will sail to Surabaya where it will finish its voyage.

The Royal Australian Navy regularly exercises with our Indonesian partners.