With smart planning, HMAS Ballarat organised a memorable family re-union near Fiji during her return passage from Exercise Rim of the Pacific 16 (RIMPAC 16).
Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Cristy Hazelman reunited with her father, Albert, and other members of her family who reside in Fiji.
With assistance from Australian and Fiji government departments, the Hazelman family planned the reunion as soon as they heard that Ballarat were returning from Oahu via Fiji.
Leading Seaman Hazelman obtained diplomatic clearance in order for her to transfer from Ballarat and enter Fiji through the Savusavu Yacht Club via her father’s boat Cristy Lee.
Ballarat’s bridge crew spotted the orange and white hull of Albert’s boat, a few miles ahead and brought the ship to a stop. The port seaboat was launched and Leading Seaman Hazelman was motored out to the Cristy Lee and was greeted with a traditional welcome and a lei was put around her neck along with an island sized hug.
The family bid farewell amongst the clapping, cheering and waving from both crews before the vessels resumed their respective journeys.
Ballarat continued on her way to Cairns and the Cristy Lee proceeded to the Savusavu Yacht Club to begin immigration processing.
Leading Seaman Hazelman spend a few days with her family before flying to Cairns to rejoin Ballarat and resume the passage to Fleet Base West.
“The opportunity to visit my family under in this way has topped off a fantastic trip for me,” said Leading Seaman Hazelman.
“Another highlight of the trip was my involvement in Ballarat’s successful missile firings during RIMPAC 16.”
The Navy has supported many reunions in the past but a mid-ocean rendezvous is one of the most nautical ways to bring a family together.