Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was gracing cinemas the last time a British naval ship docked in Brisbane.
But despite it being 28 years on, freedom is still the focus Down Under with a British navy commander admitting there is cause for concern about China’s actions in the Pacific.
HMS Spey’s commanding officer Bridget Macnae said the east coast port was being used again to allow Britain to project itself further into the Pacific.
“In terms of using Brisbane as an example, it just opens up the flexibility of where Spey specifically, but also her sister ship Tamar, can get to in terms of reach,” she told AAP.
“It also just gives us a bit more exposure and a bit more of an opportunity to go and visit some of the places that won’t necessarily have been targeted in any other ways”.
The two vessels are on patrol in the Pacific as Britain renews its focus on the region.
Asked whether there should be concerns about port visits from China or Beijing becoming more engaged with the Pacific, the lieutenant commander said it wasn’t something that could be overlooked.
“We can’t overlook the influence of other nations in this area,” she said.
China is working to bolster its influence in the Pacific by signing co-operation and security pacts with island nations.
Australia and the United States are working to counter this by signing their own agreements, particularly around maritime security to counter illegal fishing and crime, which are significant issues for nations with little policing resources surrounded by vast bodies of water.
Lt Cdr Macnae said ships the size of the Spey – an offshore patrol vessel – had the flexibility to work with partner nations and plug into local networks to counter such threats.
She said it was possible the British could instead latch on to the capability of partner nations like Australia who already have a strong presence in the Pacific instead of trying to sign its own maritime agreements with island nations.
“At the moment, what we’ve been doing is, as invited by other authorities, maritime surveillance – the reporting of anything that’s suspicious activity,” she said.
“Whether or not that balance will shift in the future, I probably couldn’t say at this time,” she said.