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October 29, 2009
By LCDR Paul Yow and
ABIS Evan Murphy
EIGHT members of HMAS
Darwin recently spent two days
at the Cambodian Armed Forces'
National Defence University English
Language School in Phnom Penh.
The officers and sailors trav-
elled four long hours by bus from
Sihanoukville where the ship was
berthed to assist in the classroom,
helping instruct English to the stu-
CPO Stuart Armitage said the
experience was memorable.
"The experience of spending two
days being hosted at the English
Language School teaching English
is an experience that we will not
forget," he said.
POCIS Lisa Corbett said the
task proved harder than she had first
"It was challenging but we soon
got into a routine and through the
use of games like hangman and dis-
cussions about Australia's unique
animals, we managed to get the stu-
dents involved," she said.
In return, the students gener-
ously acted as local guides, taking
the Aussie sailors on tours around
the local points of interest like the
Royal Palace, Genocide Museum
and the Russia Markets.
The visit to the Genocide
Museum was confronting, but very
necessary to put Cambodia in per-
spective. The museum occupies the
former grounds of a high school that
was turned into a prison camp by
the Khmer Rouge, more common-
ly known as 'S-21'. Some 17,000
Darwin crew make
friends in Cambodia
Khmer people passed through this
centre before they were taken to sites
known as 'The Killing Fields' out-
side Phnom Penh, where most were
executed and buried in mass graves.
Of the thousands who entered the
prison only 12 people are known to
Although primarily there to assist
in English language studies, the sail-
ors also participated in a number of
sporting and social events, making
lots of new friends with both stu-
dents and instructors at the school.
Hosted over two days, they expe-
rienced a taste of life within the
Cambodian Armed Forces, living in
the university dorm rooms, eating
meals in their mess hall, participat-
ing in morning PT and utilising their
unique shower and toilet facilities.
ABET Josh Roney said the vol-
leyball games were great.
"They helped team building and
we were able to get to know the stu-
dents better outside the classrooms,"
"All the students were excited
that we were playing and gathered
around the court to cheer for us."
The overall experience was both
enlightening and a very personal
experience for the students and staff,
as well as the RAN sailors.
Darwin's ship's company of
206 are currently conducting a four
month South East Asian deployment
to seven overseas ports including
Bitung and Manado in Indonesia,
Lumut and Port Klang in Malaysia,
Singapore, Sattahip in Thailand,
Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Ho
Chi Minh inVietnam.
FRIENDLY: Sailors from HMAS Darwin's volleyball team mix with the
Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) -- "Scorpions".
Photo: ABIS Evan Murphy
By SBLT Alan Clarke
LCDR Dennis 'Taff' Sweeney, current-
ly the 2IC of the RAN Diving School
at HMAS Penguin (CMDR Michael
Hickey), has completed a remarkable
48 years of service with the Royal
Navy and RAN.
LCDR Sweeney served 24 years in
the RN and will complete 24 years of
service in the RAN on January 4 next
year, providing a life time of service as a
clearance diver in both navies.
LCDR Sweeney joined the RN in
1962 as an Underwater Weapons Junior
Seaman at HMS Ganges. After a number
of sea postings he began the clearance
diving course at HMS Vernon in 1966
and completed the advanced clearance
diving course in 1972.
In 1977, LCDR Sweeney graduated
from Britannia Naval College as a spe-
cial duties sub lieutenant and became a
mine clearance diving officer in 1979.
After an exchange posting to
Australia from 1982-85 as the diving
training officer at Penguin and a post-
ing as OIC of the diving team in the
Falklands, LCDR Sweeney transferred to
the RAN on January 4, 1986 and took up
positions within the Mine Warfare and
Clearance Diving community including
2IC and OIC of the RAN Diving School,
as well as two years as the CO of HMAS
Protector (now the DMS vessel Seahorse
LCDR Sweeney retired from the
Permanent Navy at age 55 on October
3, 2001 and immediately began CFTS
as the 2IC of the RAN Diving School,
where he views his position as a "very
rewarding face-to-face job".
During his time in both navies, LCDR
Sweeney said that his highlights includ-
ed, "qualifying as a clearance diver and
advanced clearance diver as a leading
hand, graduating from the Britannia
Naval College and joining the RAN".
LCDR Sweeney's time as OIC of
the RAN Diving School, Leadership
Management School and CO of Protector
have been highlights of his service during
his time in the RAN.
He said he was now looking forward
to completing 50 years continuous serv-
ice in the Navy to round off a rewarding
and challenging career.
LCDR Dennis 'Taff' Sweeney
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