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Maitland is an Armidale Class patrol boat and is an example of how the Navy has embraced diversity in recent years, with 11 of the 26 crew being women with all of them in critical roles.
These include the Officer of the Watch, and personnel in communications, logistics, engineering, gunnery, medical, general seamanship duties, and command roles.
Maitland’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Julia Griffin, said her crew was proud to promote the vital role women play in the Royal Australian Navy.
“The women on Maitland proudly demonstrated their knowledge and skills and shared their experiences in the Royal Australian Navy and encouraged the women of Timor-Leste military to take up a career at sea,” she said.
LCDR Griffin spoke about the Navy’s strides towards equality and her own path to command. Each female crew member then described her role, responsibilities and experiences to their Timor-Leste peers.
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Nicala Gardner said the engagement was one of the highlights of her naval career.
“It was an amazing opportunity to share our experiences of life at sea and develop meaningful relationships with women from the Timor-Leste military,” she said.
Women in the Timor-Leste Navy do not serve at sea. However, through its support to the Timorese Navy, the Australian government is encouraging the Timorese to train women to serve at sea on the Guardian Class patrol boats.
The Pacific Maritime Security program has been recently extended to include Timor-Leste, with Australia set to provide Timor-Leste with its first Guardian Class patrol boat in 2023. Under the $2 billion program, Australia is set to provide 21 Guardian patrol boats to 12 Pacific island nations including Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
The Guardian Class Pacific patrol boat is 39.5 metres long, and has a complement of 23 crew members. The vessel has a range of 3,000 nautical miles at minimal speed, capable of completing the voyage from Darwin to Honiara without refuelling.
The boats are designed to conduct maritime surveillance and enforcement operations, including against illegal fishing, search and rescue, and other border operations.
The deployment of Australian Defence Force capabilities in the south-west Pacific is part of the ADF’s continuous presence in and commitment to the region.