Building relations in the Indo-Pacific

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), ABIS Richard Cordell (author)

Location(s): Yap

Topic(s): HMAS Parramatta (F154), Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta, Commander Simon Howard and The Hon Lieutenant Governor James Yangetmai shake hands at the natural history museum at Yap, Micronesia.  (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta, Commander Simon Howard and The Hon Lieutenant Governor James Yangetmai shake hands at the natural history museum at Yap, Micronesia.
HMAS Parramatta has conducted the first of many of her international engagements in support of Indo-Pacific Endeavour, an Australian Defence Force deployment to the region.
During the deployment, elements of the Joint Task Group will participate in bilateral and multilateral engagements across the region, to promote security and stability and Australia’s commitment to making effective contributions to humanitarian operations.
Parramatta was in the Federated States of Micronesia and Commanding Officer, Commander Simon Howard hosted a luncheon for a number of officials and local dignitaries, including the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Yap, the Honourable James Yangetmai.
The luncheon provided an opportunity for discussions on Australia’s close and friendly relationship with Micronesia, and the Australian Defence Force’s ability to operate along the full spectrum of humanitarian operations in the typhoon-prone region. 
“Australia is committed to developing strong and positive relations with regional nations and through events such as this luncheon we hope to build friendship, trust and mutual understanding to increase our capability to operate together,” Commander Howard said.
Parramatta has the honour of being the first major fleet unit to visit this small island nation.”
A small number of Parramatta’s female sailors and officers attended a Women’s Leadership Forum. It was the first time a forum of this nature had been held in Yap, which was facilitated by the Gender Advisor to Yap, Linda Teteth,
The event was attended by women who hold key leadership roles in Yap, as well as future female leaders. The aim of the forum was to exchange leadership experiences at all levels from both cultures.
The forum presented an opportunity for the crew to explain how the Royal Australian Navy is actively promoting women in leadership, with employment opportunities across all ranks and rates. 
As the Maritime Logistics Officer on Parramatta, Lieutenant Commander Natasha Connew heads the department that manages all the stores, administration and meals for the 190 crew.
“It was inspiring to hear the experiences of these women who play a critical role in maintaining the culture of Yap,” Lieutenant Commander Connew said.
“In many ways, we share similar challenges just in slightly different cultural context.”
The ship’s company also enjoyed an opportunity to conduct training with the crew of Federated States of Micronesia patrol boat, FSS Independence.
Parramatta’s boarding party undertook a cross-deck exchange onto the Australian-gifted Pacific-class patrol boat, gaining insight into the training, tactics and protocols of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Led by Sub Lieutenant Patrick Brown, Parramatta’s team conducted a boarding exercise on Independence.
Sub Lieutenant Brown said it was a fantastic and unique international training exercise.
“When we reviewed the sequence of events used in a boarding we were able to cross-reference our experience with theirs,” he said.
“As a result, we learnt a lot of things from each other.”
Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Jackson Sharp was the second-in-charge for the boarding and facilitated the training.
“The opportunity to conduct a boarding on Independence was highly valuable as it allowed all members of the team, experienced or otherwise, to gain exposure to boarding operations on an unfamiliar platform,” Leading Seaman Sharp said.
“The crew on Independence were incredibly engaging and willing to take part in our exercise, which further enhanced the learning opportunities and experience that all of the team gained.”
Indo-Pacific Endeavour is an Australian Defence Force joint task group deployment focused on security cooperation and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.