Three Indigenous sailors from HMAS Hobart opened an official reception on board the ship in Yokosuka, Japan, during International Fleet Review Week.
CAPTION: Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jorde Lenoy conducts an Indigenous welcome ceremony during an official reception on board HMAS Hobart in Yokosuka, Japan. Story by Lieutenant Brendan Trembath. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.
In attendance were VIP guests including Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond and admirals from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and US Navy.
The sailors performed Indigenous dances from the NSW South Coast and Queensland.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Jorde Lenoy led the group and said it felt amazing to stage a cultural performance overseas.
“I was really proud to be representing not only the Royal Australian Navy but also showcasing my culture internationally,” Able Seaman Lenoy said.
His mother is from the Kalkadoon tribe in Mount Isa and his father from the Gunganji tribe just outside of Cairns.
The first dance welcomed guests to a safe space and the following dance told the tale of how the black cockatoo acquired its black feathers.
The final piece was called the ‘shake a leg dance’.
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Connor Rose, whose mother is part of the Dungadi tribe in the Port Macquarie mountains, said it was a little nerve-wracking to perform in Japan, but he enjoyed it.
“It was just unreal and exciting at the same time,” Able Seaman Rose said.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The third member of the trio, Seaman Boatswains Mate Clayton Anderson, said it was challenging to learn the moves but Able Seaman Lenoy was a good mentor.
“We adjusted and we adapted and hopefully put on a good performance,” Seaman Anderson said.
Seaman Anderson is from a small community in the Gulf of Carpentaria. His mother is of Garawa descent and his father from the Yanyula people.
Nearly five per cent of Hobart’s crew identify as Indigenous.
Before the event the three sailors rehearsed in the ship’s laundry.
As dryers and washing machines hummed in the background, the dancers practised their steps to the beat of clapping sticks. Their practice paid off at the official reception.
Among the guests was JMSDF Master Chief Petty Officer Azuma Kuzuhito, who said Japan respected traditional culture.
“When we understand each other’s culture it is going to help make our relationship stronger,” Master Chief Petty Officer Azuma said.