Valuing our international relationships

Published on Ms Claudia Harrison (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Sirius (A266), North East Asia Deployment

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Steward Jessica Gunning on the bridge wing of the fleet replenishment ship HMAS Sirius.  (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Steward Jessica Gunning on the bridge wing of the fleet replenishment ship HMAS Sirius.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Support Operations Jessica Gunning is on board HMAS Sirius currently, providing hospitality services for the ship’s company. Her core role includes daily food preparation and service, coordinating official functions held on board HMAS Sirius and acting as the Commanding Officer's Valet.
She had the opportunity to meet with and host members of the Philippine Navy during an official visit to the country this week.
Royal Australian Navy ships HMAS Sirius along with HMAS Arunta were in Subic for a five-day visit. The short break from sea gave the ships’ companies an opportunity to continue their association with Filipino colleagues and experience Philippine culture and sights.
“I love to travel and I really value the opportunity to experience different cultures and countries; I have met the best people throughout these opportunities and have made friends for a lifetime,” said Able Seaman Gunning.
“My goal at present, after this North East Asian Deployment, is to do an operational deployment to the Persian Gulf, and then as many deployments as I can thereafter.

"It’s an overwhelming but exciting experience to travel and explore country after country –such an eye opener.”
The girl from Yamba, News South Wales joined the Navy in July 2013, four days before her 18th birthday.
Two years later and she is not only qualified in Hospitality and Responsible Service of Alcohol but Able Seaman Gunning is also as a member of the Ship's Medical Emergency Team, trained in the use of the Austeyr F88 and has responsibilities on board in addition to hospitality. She runs the on board canteen and performs fire fighting duties and Ships Medical Emergency Team duties when required.
Able Seaman Gunning had the opportunity to further enhance her skills in all of these areas recently when HMAS Sirius took part in a successful exercise in the Indian Ocean in September, as part of AUSINDEX15. This exercise was the first time Australia and India had conducted a maritime activity together, and it is planned for this to occur biannually in the future.
The visit to the Philippines was a timely reminder of the vital role the Royal Australian Navy played in the Australian Defence Force’s humanitarian efforts in the Philippines in 2013, carrying emergency supplies, water purifiers, generators, earth moving equipment and vehicles to areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

“We really value our relationship with the Philippine Navy and are excited to be here,” said Able Seaman Gunning. This echoes Australian Ambassador, Bill Tweedle’s words when he welcomed the officers and 250-member crew of HMA Ships Arunta and Sirius at Subic, where the ships berthed.

Australia and the Philippines have a long-standing Defence Cooperation Program on counter-terrorism, maritime security and assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.
Recently, Australia also gifted two operation-ready Landing Craft Heavy from the Royal Australian Navy to help improve the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief capacity of the Philippine armed forces.