For several members of HMAS Toowoomba with Filipino heritage, sailing in company with the Philippine Navy allowed them to proudly reflect on their heritage and celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
CAPTION: HMAS Toowoomba sailors Petty Officer Peter Sutton, left, and Able Seaman Finn Jackson display the national flag of the Philippines during the inaugural maritime cooperative activity during a regional presence deployment. Story by Lieutenant Commander Kieran Davis.
This opportunity arose during a recent maritime cooperative activity in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines.
Toowoomba and a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A maritime patrol aircraft took part, along with Philippine Navy vessels BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Davao Del Sur, and five Philippine Air Force surveillance aircraft.
Toowoomba’s Imagery Specialist Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez was born in the Palawan region, close to where Toowoomba was operating with the Philippine Navy vessels and maritime surveillance aircraft throughout the bilateral exercise.
“As a proud Australian and Pinoy man, I was excited to be working with the Philippine Navy over the past few days,” he said.
“I have family and friends who live in the Palawan region, so the prospect of a closer relationship between the RAN and the Philippine Navy reassures me of the commitment to a peaceful, secure and prosperous region.”
The maritime cooperative activity delivered on a key commitment made by leaders when the Australia-Philippines relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in September. This exercise included joint manoeuvres, communications exercises and maritime domain awareness patrols.
CAPTION: Petty Officer Peter Sutton and Able Seaman Finn Jackson, of HMAS Toowoomba, wave goodbye to the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar on completion of the inaugural maritime cooperative activity.