HMAS Choules has departed Port Moresby and the Lombrum Naval Base after a successful visit to Papua New Guinea as part of Defence’s commitment to the Pacific, which has been boosted by the Defence Minister announcing a new co-operation commitment with a regional partner.
Choules delivered equipment and tools to Lombrum Naval Base as part of the Defence Cooperation Program, to help boost the capability development of the base.
The Bay Class vessel also hosted 18 members of the PNG Defence Force during the transit between Port Moresby and Manus Province, taking part in ship tours, shipboard demonstrations, an MRH-90 helicopter familiarisation and “gained valuable life-at-sea experiences”.
“The partnership between PNG and Australia remains strong and this visit has reinforced the friendship between our nations,” Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, Commander Scott Houlihan said.
“By demonstrating interoperability with our neighbours through training, exercises and engagements, we strengthen the security and capability of our region.”
HMAS Choules is currently deployed on a month-long tour of the south-west Pacific for maritime and land training with regional partners, with the ship expected to return to Australia in late March.
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the activity was an early contribution to the Australian government’s Pacific step-up, before Choules deployment to the region.
”Regional security and stability and promoting the capacity of our regional partners remains one of the Australian government’s highest priorities, as demonstrated by this deployment of HMAS Choules to the south-west Pacific,” Minister Pyne said.
Minister Pyne has also announced a Joint Statement on Defence Cooperation between Australia and New Zealand, which follows the principles set out in the 2018 Joint Statement on Closer Defence Relations, as well as the region’s collective security agreement, the Boe Declaration.
“Australia and New Zealand have a very close defence relationship, evidenced most recently in our closely co-ordinated efforts to support Papua New Guinea’s hosting of APEC 2018, and in our ongoing joint efforts to support the Republic of Fiji’s Military Force to conduct peacekeeping operations,” Minister Pyne said.
“Minister [Ron] Mark and I agreed to further deepen our already close bilateral security co-operation and strengthen efforts to co-ordinate our engagement activities in the region.”
Minister Pyne hosted his New Zealand counterpart, Minister for Defence and Minister for Veterans Ron Mark, in Adelaide for the annual Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ANZDMM).
As well as discussing their commitment to the Pacific, the ministers also discussed approaches to “global security dynamics including operational deployments, increased investment and interoperability in defence capability and fostering stronger ties between Australian and New Zealand defence industry”.