Royal Australian Navy sailors have tasted life at sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as personnel from both services temporarily swapped places after Exercise Kakadu.
On completion of the exercise, HMAS Newcastle and JS Sazanami DD-113 adjusted their programs to depart together from Darwin and conduct a Passage Exercise Program for three days.
During those three days, six members from Newcastle conducted a cross deck with six members of JS Sazanami. Officers and sailors from JS Sazanami were given a tour of Newcastle and invited to participate in recreational activities which included a game of Uckers and cards in the Junior Sailors Café.
The Japanese thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Personnel from JS Sazanami had an understanding of the English language and communicated well with Newcastle's ship's company.
In return, members from Newcastle were also afforded tours of the ship and taught how to play with a Kendama, a traditional Japanese skill toy.
Members of Newcastle who cross decked to JS Sazanami reported that life onboard Sazanami was very similar to that in Newcastle, with the main exception being the difference in food preparation and cooking techniques. Newcastle personnel enjoyed the culinary delights served by Sazanami including soups, rice dishes, noodle dishes and a variety of meats.
Many gifts were exchanged during the cross decks including, challenge coins, lapel pins, patches, hats and a Kendama skill toy.
As the final cross deck personnel were returned to their respective ships, JS Sazanami hoisted their battle ensign and the words 'Thank you' in flags to Newcastle, who responded in kind with 'Sayonara'.
Newcastle is currently operating in the vicinity of the Whitsundays, supporting the Surface Combatant Navigation Course Sea Assessment Period. Newcastle will return to Fleet Base East in early October.