Angel drives Toowoomba around the bends in Vietnam

Bringing a ship into Ho Chi Minh City port is no easy feat, but HMAS Toowoomba’s navigating officer Lieutenant Loren Angel did just that.

CAPTION: HQ-382 Tarantal-V-class ship from the Vietnam People’s Navy and Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Toowoomba conduct officer-of-the-watch manoeuvres during regional presence deployment 2023 off the coast of Ho Chi Minh City. Photos by Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez.

The ship returned to Vietnam this month as part of a port visit conducted during Indo-Pacific Endeavour.

Starting at 4am, the ship travelled along the Saigon River for almost four-and-a-half hours before reaching its berth.

“It was 87km from the start of the actual pilotage with hundreds of bends along the river. It was a very long pilotage,” Lieutenant Angel said.

The helpful hand of a Vietnamese pilot on board was essential in guiding them along the river.

“Working with the Vietnamese pilot was good. He didn’t speak too much English but he knew exactly how to communicate with us and I knew how to communicate what we needed from him,” Lieutenant Angel said.

“This has been the hardest pilotage of my career. I did a similar river pilotage in Bangkok last year but this has been very long and exhausting.”

Lieutenant Angel’s excitement at exploring the city and enjoying the food made the journey worthwhile.

While in Ho Chi Minh City, Toowoomba’s crew will compete against the Naval Technical College in volleyball, conduct ship tours with Military Hospital 175 and take part in exercises.

Air Commodore Tony McCormack said it was a pleasure to be back in Vietnam and Toowoomba’s visit will further strengthen the bonds between the partner nations and navies.

“This visit signifies the importance Australia places on our relationship with Vietnam – a relationship built on cooperation and friendship – and we have a shared understanding of sovereignty and international law,” Air Commodore McCormack said.

Conducted since 2017, Indo-Pacific Endeavour directly supports the Australian Government’s commitment in the Defence Strategic Review to invest in regional partnerships and work with partners to contribute to the collective security of the Indo-Pacific.

CAPTIONCommanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba Commander Darin MacDonald, Commander Indo-Pacific Endeavour Air Commodore Tony McCormack and Defence Attache Vietnam Group Captain Mick Jansen in front of HMAS Toowoomba with Vietnamese delegation in Ho Chi Minh City.


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