Australia’s three-month tour in Pacific draws to a close with final port visits

HMA Ships Adelaide and Toowoomba sail in company in the Pacific Ocean during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Ships deployed as part of the Royal Australian Navy’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour tour have concluded their final port visits before returning home later this week.

HMA Ships Adelaide and Toowoomba visited the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, while HMAS Success visited Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, working with Pacific Island partners in support of regional prosperity and security.

ADF personnel worked alongside partner security forces and local communities to conduct women in leadership and medical workshops, as well as carrying out repair and maintenance work to local schools, health and community facilities, and historic sites.

The crews also conducted commemoration services for the loss of HMAS AE1, Australia’s first submarine, which sank off the coast of Rabaul in 1914, and the sinking of HMAS Canberra during the WWII Pacific campaign.

IPE Joint Task Group Commander, Captain Jim Hutton, said the visits reinforced our regional security partnerships.

“We were honored by the welcome we received in both countries,” Captain Hutton said.

“Over the last few days, we have forged stronger people-to-people links and joint capacities in both countries that can be utilized in times of crisis.

“At the end of the day we are all committed to supporting regional security, and IPE has enhanced our ability to operate more seamlessly with our Pacific partners.”

In the Solomon Islands, the ADF focussed on maritime security training with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Maritime Division.

The IPE Joint Task Group was also able to assist the RSIPF conduct a short notice medical evacuation of four people, including a teenager who had been critically injured in a remote part of the country.

“We were able to support the RSIPF’s request for assistance by utilizing two of the ADF’s embarked MRH-90 helicopters to send five police officers and medical teams to Bellona Island to retrieve the wounded individuals back to Honiara for emergency treatment,” Captain Hutton said.

“This highlights not only the capability of the ADF to work with partners to rapidly plan and conduct joint force operations in a complex security environment, but also our enduring commitment to our friends and neighbors in the region.”

These port visits follow successful capacity building and community engagement activities conducted during visits to Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in Phase One of IPE in June.

The IPE Joint Task Group will return to Australia later this week.

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