Australian Navy patrol boat trains with Fiji Navy

Boading party members from HMAS Wollongong conduct boarding party exercises with members of the Fijian Navy in Suva, Fiji. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Royal Australian Navy patrol boat HMAS Wollongong participated in a four-day exercise with the Republic of Fiji Navy ship Kula during a recent visit to Fiji.

Wollongong is on a South West Pacific deployment, which includes visits to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, as part of the Australian Defence Force’s enduring commitment to assist with building regional security capacity.

Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said the joint training reinforces the defence relationship between Australia and the Republic of Fiji.

“Our defence cooperation with Fiji is multifaceted,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

“We work together on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief interoperability, we are serving together on several security missions overseas and we conduct joint training.”

During the exercise the two navies conducted activities focused on seamanship, boarding operations, ship handling as well as search and rescue exercises.

The exercise coincided with Kula’s participation in a Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency regional maritime surveillance operation.

Three Republic of Fiji Military Forces sailors were embarked in Wollongong during the exercise. Two Fijian sailors will remain on board Wollongong until the vessel returns to Australia to continue the bilateral engagement.

Australia is working with Fiji to conduct an estimated AUD$13.5 million refit of two of Fiji’s three Australian-gifted Pacific Patrol Boats ahead of the provision of two replacement vessels to be built in Australia under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

During its deployment Wollongong also completed a range of passage exercises with Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Hawea.

Wollongong is now in Noumea to conduct similar activities with the French Armed Forces New Caledonia.

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