HMA Ships Choules, Paluma and Mermaid anchored in locations around Papua New Guinea recently for PNG Independence Day Celebrations in the local regions.
HMAS Choules, which is at Manus Island for Operation LANDSCAPE, attended the festivities at the local Lombrum Primary School Fundraising Day on 15 September 2013 and the Independence Day parade and festivities in Lorengau the following day, with members of the Ship’s Company forming an unarmed guard.
The Fundraising Day was a chance for the children and families in the Lombrum area to celebrate with dance, song and games to raise money for the local school.
Sailors from Choules were asked to judge the entries for the Mr and Miss Lombrum competition and saw the variety of traditional dance and costumes from the various PNG regions.
Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander (CMDR) Ashley Papp, said the parade in Lorengau, Manus Island’s major town, saw hundreds of school children, government workers and defence personnel marching down the main road.
“The team enjoyed being a part of the community for the celebrations - the colour, the costumes, the culture was a fabulous experience for us all,” he said.
HMA Ships Mermaid and Paluma took part in celebrations across the waters at Esa'Ala Station in Dawson Strait.
A flag raising ceremony was held at dawn on the 16 September 13, with the Honourable Steven Davis, Milne Bay Administrator, Confucius Ikoirere, Normanby PM and CO HMAS Mermaid, LCDR Sara Lambden, in attendance.
Mermaid and Paluma conducted a Marching Exhibition later that day.
Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate, Barth Tiro, (originally from PNG) led the parade, with CO Mermaid, LCDR Sara Lambden and Esa'Ala Chairman, Mr Alfred Kidilon, watching on.
This exhibition was so popular that the parade was requested to be conducted a second time, much to the delight and cheers of the local community.
The afternoon was spent playing different sports such as running races, soccer, volleyball and other fun games. CO Mermaid was even taught how to carry a basket by the local women.
PNG Independence Day marks the 38th year after the Australian flag came down for the last time from Hubert Murray Stadium in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131514.