Home' Navy News : May 26th 2011 Contents NAVY NEWS
May 26, 2011
west Pacific deployment
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The port visit ended with some
friendly games of soccer and vol-
leyball with the local French Navy
contingent, which displayed a lot more
proficiency in the sports than they had
Then, it was time to return to work
and the sun-kissed crew, joined by two
members of the Tongan Navy, set sail
for Nuku'alofa, Tonga.
Tanks roll into Tonga
The crew experienced very rough
weather during the voyage from New
Caledonia to Tonga and were particu-
larly pleased to see dry land as the
Port of Nuku'alofa drew near.
However, the two embarked
Tongan naval officers were impressed
with Childers' manoeuvrability and
stability in the rough conditions.
Soon after arriving the weather
improved and Tonga and its many
islands provided great opportunities
for the crew to explore. The nearby
island of Pangiamotu, known as "Big
Mama's Island" was a favourite for
snorkelling and swimming.
Australian High Commissioner to
Tonga Thomas Roth invited the whole
crew to an informal reception at his
residence. The evening gave Ardent
Six an opportunity to mingle with
local politicians, Australian Federal
Police and consular officials under-
neath the Australian flag and a setting
After a few days of relaxation it
was time to give something back to
the local community and the crew
got to work installing a water tank at
Nuku'alofa's main primary school and
restoring a nearby playground.
The school's 480 students had been
drinking from a contaminated, old
water tank and school principal Sia
Taumalolo said the new tank was a
"This is the day we had been pray-
ing for," she said.
"It's one of the best days of our
lives. It gets very hot and the kids get
very thirsty, and now they can quench
their thirst with clean drinking water."
Once the installation was complete
the children thanked Ardent Six by
putting on a concert displaying tradi-
tional Tongan singing and dancing.
The country's Deputy Education
Minister, Ponepate Taunisila, formally
thanked the crew for their work.
"Clean drinking water is a basic
necessity for a healthy life. We are so
thankful for what you have given to
the children of this school," he said.
When the formalities were over it
was time for lunch. The menu con-
sisted of traditionally cooked pig-on-
a-spit, fish and cream wrapped in Taro
leaves, coal-fired sweet potato and
coconut milk fresh from the shell.
With full bellies the crew then
joined the school kids in a game of
And with that the Tongan port visit
was over and it was time for Childers
to make way for Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Vanuatu, knot soon
Two officers from Vanuatu's Police
Maritime Wing joined Ardent Six for
the last inter-island leg of the south-
west Pacific deployment.
Constable Simeon Timothy, an
electronics technician, and Constable
Roan Wilson, a communicator, dou-
bled up for watches on the marine link
console and the bridge and learned
how Armidale-class patrol boats oper-
ate.Vanuatu, the final port visit of the
deployment, was highly anticipated
by the Australian crew and excitement
grew on board Childers as the patrol
boat made its early morning approach.
Entry into Paray Bay, where
Childers was to berth, was challenging
with two sand bars that have charted
depths of 3 and 2.6 metres respec-
tively at the narrow mouth of the bay.
Careful planning around the tides
allowed Ardent Six Executive Officer
LEUT Matthew Mialkovsky to coast
Childers, with a draft of 2.6 metres,
safely over the hazards, and the port
The Australian patrol boat berthed
outboard Republic of Vanuatu Ship
Tokoro and new friendships were
As a token of goodwill, ABBM
Jason Cowie presented Tokoro's
Buffer, Anthony Ihu, with 20 second-
hand berthing hawsers, collected
from vessels berthed at HMAS Cairns
before the deployment.
Chief Ihu said the Vanuatu police
boat had no spares and the hawsers
would come in handy.
"These (ropes) are very hard for us
to get. When I was told we were being
given this gift I was very happy. This
will help us out for many years," he
said.Next on the agenda was a tour
for students from the Vanuatu
Children from the school were
shown around Childers, had photos
taken in the captain's chair and asked
lots of questions about the 25mm gun.
After the tours were over Ardent
Six narrowly defeated Tokoro's crew
in a friendly game of soccer, fol-
lowed by a barbecue where the teams
swapped stories of life at sea.
Vanuatu left no-one disappointed.
Crew members enjoyed snorkelling
and surfing, swimming in fresh water
lagoons and visits to pristine water-
falls. Getting around the island was
a breeze, with many crew members
renting quad bikes and dune buggies to
maximise their sightseeing.
Some explored traditional villages
and others stopped at roadside stalls
and ate local delicacies such as meat
cooked in banana leaves, and seafood
pulled straight from the lagoon.
Ardent Six immersed itself in as
much culture the island paradise could
dish up, while always proudly flying
the flag for Australia.
When it was time to set sail for
Cairns it was fitting that the crew of
Tokoro slipped Childers and fare-
welled their Australian friends.
Victory in the south-
During the deployment Ardent Six
formed new partnerships, strengthened
old ties and made contributions that
will be long remembered.
Media coverage of all three port
visits was positive and local resi-
dents warmly welcomed the visiting
CMDR Edwards said the opportu-
nity to work with foreign navies was
of particular benefit to his crew.
"Partnerships with Pacific island
nations are a high priority and the
ability to train with their navies has
allowed us to better understand each
other," he said.
"With six members of my crew
under training, the experience was
Lasting friendships were formed
and there's little doubt the month-long
deployment has set the tone for years
of great working relationships and
enriching port visits for the RAN in
the south-west Pacific.
Ardent Six crew
members pose with
children from GPS
and, inset, Tongan
High Commissioner to
Tonga Thomas Roth,
School Principal Sia
Taumalolo and Ardent
Officer CMDR Mitch
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