Exchange strengthens regional partnerships

Cook Islands, Fiji and Singapore have become the first three nations to successfully complete the inaugural Sea Training Group – Defence Cooperation Program (STG-DCP) non-reciprocal exchange.

CAPTION: Police Constable Tehapai Marsters (Cook Islands), Warrant Officer Edwin Ong (Singapore) and Chief Petty Officer Timoci Tokaru (Fiji) on the wharf at HMAS Stirling ahead of training with the Sea Training Group – Defence Cooperation Program. Story by Sub Lieutenant Nancy Cotton.

The exchange was established in 2018 primarily to support the introduction into service and training of the Guardian-class patrol boats as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP).

Beginning earlier this year, the three-month program at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia invited three partner nations from across the Indo-Pacific to send a participant to embed with the Australian STG-DCP team.

These members, alongside their Australian counterparts, will be responsible for training other participant Pacific nations.

Chief Petty Officer Timoci Tokaru, Republic of Fiji Navy, said it was an honour to be the first participant from Fiji in the program that would allow him to take valuable lessons back to his workplace.

“Throughout the program, I was involved in the delivery of training to the crews of Vanuatu’s RVS Takuare and to Kiribati’s RKS Teanoai II. It was very professionally rewarding and enabled me to refine my skills as an instructor and a mariner,” CPO Tokaru said.

“I was also fortunate to be able to work side-by-side with sea trainers from Australia, Singapore and the Cook Islands.”

The non-reciprocal exchange program supports Navy’s mission to nurture and strengthen its alliances and regional partnerships.

It allows Australia to provide partner nations with opportunities to enhance their maritime skills and provide them with the knowledge and experience to become sea trainers, taking the critical capability back to their respective countries.

Police Constable Tehapai Marsters is an experienced member of the Cook Islands Pacific patrol boat Te Kukupa. For him the program was extremely valuable and he now feels he can take his new skills back home and help prepare his crew to take delivery of the Cook Islands Guardian-class patrol boat in 2022.

“Working alongside STG and the other two countries, sharing our knowledge across the different maritime disciplines from seamanship, to engineering, to combat survivability, was extremely valuable,” Constable Marsters said.

Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Palau, Kiribati and Vanuatu are among the nations which have already received the Guardian-class patrol boats under the PMSP.

The latest exchange rotation began this month with participants from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.


 
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