TC Winston

ADF personnel in the country to build ties with RFMF and Govt

The HMAS Canberra arrived in Suva this morning with more than eight hundred Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel on board. Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith was welcome by the Australian High Commissioner Margaret Twomey. Captain Smith said their visit is a decent opportunity to strengthen key and beneficial relationships. SMITH: “Having been here earlier of this year […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

August 17, 2016 1:42 pm

The HMAS Canberra arrived in Suva this morning with more than eight hundred Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel on board.

Australian High Commissioner Margaret Twomey welcoming Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith to Fiji. (Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswwire)
Australian High Commissioner Margaret Twomey welcoming Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith. (Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswire)

Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith was welcome by the Australian High Commissioner Margaret Twomey.

Captain Smith said their visit is a decent opportunity to strengthen key and beneficial relationships.

SMITH: “Having been here earlier of this year and it’s one of our great opportunity to come all the way back here after cyclone Winston and to see the Fijian people and is one of the special opportunities for us and it’s  a good opportunity to stregthen good relationship with the Fiji Military who worked very closely during cyclone Winston and also members of the Fijian Government who had provided us with great assistance and leadership, when we were over here supporting Fiji during TC Winston.”

He added that there was a need for dialogue sessions with the Fijian Government in order to establish crucial lessons learned from TC Winston and the next course of action for the nation.

SMITH: “What we looking into to do is to sit down with the Fijian Government and the Fiji Military and talk about some of the lessons learnt from the operation that we did and some things were done very well and we learnt a lot from operating here and there are also some other areas where we can draw a lesson from and where we can continue to improve.”

Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith and a member of the Australia Naval Force. (Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswire)
Commanding Officer Captain Christopher Smith and a member of the Royal Australian Navy. (Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswire)

He said that there are some number of issues the Royal Australian Navy needs to talk about with the Fijian Government and the Fiji Military.

SMITH: “There are some number of issues we need to talk about and we are very focused in making sure that the vulnerable people and the women and children in the community are always the centre of all the operation that we do and we will have a seminar on the boat where we’ll be taking on those sort of events and how Fiji can make sure to put there focus on the vulnerability and these sorts of events.”

(Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswire)
(Nacanieli Tuilevuka/Newswire)

Captain Smith said that a strong bond had been forged between the RFMF and the Royal Australian Navy during the recovery operations after TC Winston.

SMITH: “One of the great thing about the Winston operation is that we had the RFMF troop with us all the time. We worked very closely with the Fiji Military Force and we build relationship at very closer level and we have no doubt that the relationship will rekindel and we hoping for a game of cricket and we also have number of events and sporting activities. We have these outlined these activities not only to build a personal relationship but a strong professional relationship, we’ll need to develop these as well.”

The HMAS Canberra will be in the country for three days.

HMAS Canberra, an Australian Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Dock and one of the two largest ships ever constructed by the Royal Australian Navy, will conduct a port visit to Suva from 17 to 20 August.

The HMAS Canberra worth $2.14 billion FJD is the largest vessel in the Australian Navy. (Newswire)
The HMAS Canberra worth $2.14 billion FJD is the largest vessel in the Australian Navy. (Newswire)

Canberra first visited Fiji when it was deployed in March-April after Tropical Cyclone Winston as part of Australia’s Operation FIJI ASSIST 2016.

During the week, Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will conduct:

  • training exercises with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF)
  • undertake a Lessons Learnt Symposium with the RFMF on the Tropical Cyclone Winston response
  • hold a Women, Peace and Security Talanoa with RFMF personnel
  • join Fiji’s Fight the Bite campaign
  • participate in a cricket match
  • touch football competition with RFMF personnel.

The visit provides an opportunity for the ADF and RFMF to build on the friendships made in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston and enhance Australia and Fiji’s strong defence cooperation partnership.

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