During the her recent transit to the Middle East, HMAS Melbourne took the opportunity to visit Sri Lanka and take a break from continuation training in the lead up to her operational duty as part of Operation MANITOU.
This was a visit heavy on diplomacy between representatives of Melbourne’s command team, the Australian High Commission to Sri Lanka, and Sri Lankan Navy. Melbourne hosted an official reception and Ceremonial Sunset were present and included the past and present Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Force, Service Chiefs and Defence and Ambassadorial staff from a number of countries.
Melbourne was also able to return the generosity by opening the ship for tours for the local officers and sailors, and also the Australian High Commission staff.
The challenge to take on a Sri Lankan Navy soccer team was offered and accepted by Melbourne, with the honours narrowly going to the home team.
Seaman Boatswains Mate Jessica Muir played her first soccer game against a foreign Navy.
"Even though there was a slight language barrier, it was still really fun!" she said.
A narcotics trafficking conference was also hosted by Melbourne’s Operations team with attendees from the Sri Lankan Navy, Australian Federal Police and Border Force. Melbourne’s Commanding Officer, Commander Bill Waters, said this was an extremely important interaction between key Australian Government agencies and the Sri Lankan Navy.
"The benefits of this dialog are invaluable in maintaining cohesive regional partnerships to achieve maritime security.
The major event during Melbourne’s visit was the Official Reception and Ceremonial Sunset, co-hosted by Melbourne and Ms Robyn Mudie, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. Commander Waters thanked the Sri Lankan Navy for their generosity.
"Opportunities like a warship visit, and gathering together for events such as this, are an essential part of continuing to develop our ability to work together as partners, and as a neighbour in the Indian Ocean," he said.
On departure, the Australian frigate exercised with two Sri Lankan Offshore Patrol Vessels. This involved a series of underway manoeuvres and finished with Melbourne sailing past at high speed while cheering ship to farewell Sri Lanka.
Melbourne has now turned her attention to the Middle East region deployment and has taken over from HMAS Newcastle as part of Operation MANITOU - Australia’s contribution to counter terrorism, counter piracy, narcotics interdiction and improves the overall stability to that region.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152622.