Personnel onboard HMAS Choules have conducted their own version of the International Fleet Review (IFR) while anchored off Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.
Six of Choules’ watercraft were launched and conducted two sail pasts in tight formation on 7 October 2013, including her mexeflote, Maximus, as well as 35 Water Transport’s LCM-8, and both the Pacific 22 Fast Rescue Crafts Odin and Thor.
Petty Officer Boatswain Mark Gibbs, who recently marked his 30 year milestone in the Navy, said the Manus Island IFR was conducted to provide an opportunity for the ship’s company to join in the celebrations from afar.
“It was a shame that we had to miss the actual IFR festivities back home. It would have been a wonderful experience to have seen something like that in your own back yard.
“Despite missing out, we had a good laugh doing our own IFR, Manus Island Style, which we certainly won’t forget in a hurry,” PO Gibbs said.
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Steward Louise Chittick said Choules personnel ignored the heat and humidity and crowded the upper decks to watch the flotilla, and wave with ‘Chux' cleaning cloths, symbolic of the time honoured tradition of waving handkerchiefs as ships pass by.
“It was extraordinary, I will never forget it. It was a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.
Choules is currently situated off Manus Island, Papua New Guinea in support of Operation LANDSCAPE.