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Australian Navy sea training strengthens Pacific alliances

Monday 18 October 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in National

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Australian Navy sea training strengthens Pacific alliances
Police constable Tehapai Marsters (Cook Islands), warrant officer Edwin Ong (Singapore), and chief petty officer Timoci Tokaru (Fiji) on the wharf at HMAS Stirling ahead of training with the Sea Training Group - Defence Cooperation Programme. AUSTRALIAN NAVY/21101408

The Australian Navy is on a mission to nurture and strengthen its alliances and regional partnerships and the Cook Islands, Fiji and Singapore have become the first three nations to successfully complete its inaugural exchange programme.

Beginning earlier this year, the three-month sea trainer programme at the HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West invited three partner nations from across the Indo-Pacific to send a participant to embed with the Australian STG-DCP team, the Australian government’s Department of Defencesaid.

The non-reciprocal exchange programme was held in support of the Australian Navy’s mission to nurture and strengthen its alliances and regional partnerships.

The Department of Defence said it has allowed the Cook Islands to provide partner nations with opportunities to enhance their maritime skills and provide them with the knowledge and experience to become sea trainers, taking the critical capability back to their respective countries.

Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Palau, Kiribati and Vanuatu are among the nations which have already received the Guardian-class patrol boats under the PMSP.

Police Constable Tehapai Marsters is an experienced member of the Cook Islands Pacific patrol boat Te Kukupa.

For him the programme was extremely valuable and he now feels he can take his new skills back home and help prepare his crew to take delivery of the Cook Islands Guardian-class patrol boat in 2022, the Department of Defence said.

“Working alongside STG and the other two countries, sharing our knowledge across the different maritime disciplines from seamanship, to engineering, to combat survivability, was extremely valuable,” Constable Marsters said.

Chief Petty Officer Timoci Tokaru, Republic of Fiji Navy, said it was an honour to be the first participant from Fiji in the programme that would allow him to take valuable lessons back to his workplace. 

“I was also fortunate to be able to work side-by-side with sea trainers from Australia, Singapore and the Cook Islands.”