First Australian navy ship since coup visits Fiji

The first Royal Australian Navy ship to visit Fiji since the military coup in December 2006 has completed a six-day port visit to Suva.

Commanding Officer HMAS Leeuwin Lieutenant Commander Richard Mortimer said his ship’s company of 65 had worked alongside the Defence Forces of Fiji.

“While in Suva, we conducted joint training with the Republic of Fiji Navy, concentrating on hydrography and navigation skills as well as damage control,” Lieutenant Commander Mortimer said.

“We provided them with tours of Leeuwin and in turn visited their survey facilities.”

After departing Suva, HMAS Leeuwin will spend close to a month surveying waters around Fiji, including Rotuma Island with the Fijian Navy.

Information gathered will be delivered to the Republic of Fiji Hydrographic Service as well as the Australian Hydrographic Service in Wollongong for analysis.

“The ocean around the Rotuma Islands has not been surveyed before,” Lieutenant Commander Mortimer said.

“The data we collect will be used by hydrographers to update charts.

“This is important as it will provide mariners with confidence to operate in these waters and boost trade and tourism in the region.

Leeuwin is extremely fortunate to visit Fiji.

“My crew are enjoying strengthening ties with an important South Pacific navy and seeing first hand the beautiful Fijian Islands.

“The work we will do together will produce vital nautical charting information, but more importantly, it will create friendships.”

Leeuwin is currently deployed on a three month south-west Pacific deployment.

Before visiting Fiji, the Leeuwin-class hydrographic survey ship visited Tonga supporting the Australian Governor General at the Coronation of the King of Tonga.

The ship also participated in a tri-lateral Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission patrol with New Zealand and France.

This patrol was conducted upon the high seas and adjacent Economic Exclusion Zones between New Zealand, New Caledonia and the east coast of Australia to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operators undermining migratory fish stocks in the region.

 

 

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Brian Hartigan

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