The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has brought the navies of Australia and China together in a significant display of international cooperation.
Despite heavy seas and poor search conditions, HMAS Toowoomba recently conducted boat operations with People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) destroyer Haikou (DDG 171), to pass vital information and documentation regarding search operations.
Without the benefit of a Chinese linguist, Toowoomba’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was put to sea to ensure that changed search parameters were passed to the Chinese ship.
Lieutenant Samuel Lloyd from HMAS Toowoomba said the transfer went seamlessly despite the conditions.
“The Haikou conducted the transfer like she was one of our own,” Lieutenant Lloyd said.
“The PLA-N demonstrated their professionalism and like all mariners, held a healthy respect for the sea.”
The challenging evolution included exchange of ship’s plaques and Commanding Officers’ caps in a traditional mark of respect between mariner nations.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Matthew Doornbos, said the high-seas rendezvous highlighted the depth of cooperation between the nations supporting the search.
“Thorough preparation and professional seamanship from both sides resulted in a successful transfer,” Commander Doornbos said.
“It is reassuring to see so many countries all coming together in a common purpose-this is a great opportunity to improve our coordination and cooperation with all our maritime colleagues.”
Australian ships HMAS Toowoomba, HMAS Success, Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield, DMS Maritime Seahorse Standard and most recently HMAS Perth have been tasked to the operation with significant maritime contributions from the China, United Kingdom, Malaysia and the United States.
Press Release, April 7, 2014; Image: Australian Navy