September 29, 2018 – HMAS Melbourne has completed a visit to the Chinese port of Zhanjiang and conducted a combined passage exercise with PLAN Xianning.
Part of Navy’s North East Asian Deployment for 2018, the short passage exercise conducted after sailing from port included routine safety of life at sea drills, helicopter search and rescue operations, as well as navigation and ship handling exercises.
The afternoon’s exercises culminated with a ceremonial ‘cheer ship’, with the ship’s companies of both Melbourne and Xianning on the upper decks of both ships to farewell each other in traditional naval fashion before parting ways at sea.
Australian and Chinese personnel planned the activity together with the two ships berthed next to each other in Zhanjiang Naval Base.
Operations Officer Melbourne, Lieutenant Commander Suresh Kumar, said combined planning enhances mutual understanding and builds trust in skills common to all mariners.
“We appreciated the opportunity to meet and discuss our intentions for the passage exercises,” Lieutenant Commander Kumar said.
“These meetings help us to identify and establish commonalities in operating procedures, therefore they improve how we communicate with each other and how we interact at sea.”
Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne, Commander Marcus Buttler, said the meetings had been beneficial for the whole of the ship’s company.
“Knowing what to expect during combined seamanship evolutions and passage exercises is fundamental to managing encounters on the high seas.
“I think the benefit of just being here to be able to establish these foundations cannot be understated.”
While berthed in Zhanjiang HMAS Melbourne’s crew also participated in a range of cultural, sporting and social activities as well as senior leadership engagement.
HMA Ships Melbourne, Stuart and Sirius are conducting a North East Asia deployment, which will see the Royal Australian Navy task group visit a number of ports across the region in support of international engagement.