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The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Leeuwin will arrive in Luganville on Saturday 08 February for a three-day visit as she travels through to the Solomon Islands for a hydrographic tasking.
It follows a series of successful Australian Defence Force engagements with the Vanuatu Police Force last year which included ship visits, increased training and exercises across the archipelago.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Leeuwin, Commander Richard Mortimer, said the ship’s visit is particularly special as it marks the first Royal Australian Navy visit to Luganville since 2017.
“Our visit also coincides with an important milestone for the Vanuatu-Australia relationship as together we celebrate 40 years of a partnership that continues to strengthen,” Commander Mortimer said.
“A key part of this partnership is our strong maritime security relationship, evidenced by increasing training opportunities and exchanges between the Police Maritime Wing and Royal Australian Navy, Vanuatu’s participation in the Pacific Maritime Security Program, and the presence of two in-country Royal Australian Navy advisors who work side-by-side with their Police Maritime Wing colleagues.”
“The ship’s company are very excited to meet their Vanuatu Police Force counterparts and to have the opportunity to explore the fascinating culture, natural beauty and wartime history that Espiritu Santo offers,” he said.
HMAS Leeuwin is one of the Royal Australian Navy’s two Hydrographic Ships based in Cairns, north Queensland. The ship is 72 meters long with a crew of 65 men and women. The ship’s helicopter deck will be the venue for an Official Cocktail Reception on Saturday night for local dignitaries and senior Vanuatu Police Force members.
The event will feature a traditional Navy sunset ceremony and be jointly hosted by Commanding Officer Richard Mortimer and Australia’s new High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Sarah de Zoeten. This will be de Zoeten’s first official visit to Luganville.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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