Two Australian Navy vessels, HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Melbourne, arrived into the Suva Port yesterday.
The HMAS Adelaide, the sister ship of HMAS Canberra which provided humanitarian support in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016, is berthed at the Kings Wharf.
The HMAS Melbourne is anchored out in the Suva Harbour.
Both vessels are enroute to Hawaii to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018.
During the transit to Hawaii, the ships will be conducting Exercise Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018.
This is a major annual maritime activity that delivers on the 2016 Defence White Paper commitment to deepen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.
The HMAS Adelaide crew includes eight Fijian personnel from the RFMF who boarded in Australia on May 27.
Task group commander Captain Jim Hutton said Indo-Pacific Endeavour was the second iteration of the exercise and part of ongoing efforts to reaffirm Australia’s positive relationship with other militaries through joint practical activities.
Captain Hutton said the operations will also include personnel from the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.
“A joint task group of four ships and more than 1000 personnel from the Australian Defence Force are deployed on Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018, a series of engagement activities with Australia’s regional neighbours,” he said.
“Running from May to September, it is geared towards enhancing interoperability with Australia’s key partners including Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
“HMAS Adelaide, with a Canberra-Class landing helicopter dock, is the centrepiece of the task group. It is able to project embarked personnel, vehicles and aircraft ashore in support of joint exercises.
“HMAS Adelaide will be joined by HMAS Melbourne, Success and Toowoomba,” he said.
Republic of Fiji Military Force Lieutenant Jone Vatunilagi said they had learned from each other and further strengthened ties.
“We are part of the eight-member team tasked to our specialised departments like engineering,” Lieutenant Vatunilagi said.
“We also expect the patrols to deepen collaboration between Australian and Fijian Government agencies in strengthening defence co-operation.”
There will be a combined service at the Centenary Church in Suva at 10am today.
This is to mark the special achievement for the RFMF that celebrates 40 years of service to United Nations peacekeeping.
The service is to honour the women and men who put themselves in harm’s way and continue to do so for the peaceful existence of other people.
The service will be attended by members of the diplomatic corps, government personnel; crew from the visiting HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Melbourne and families of loved ones in the defence services.
There was a reception on board the HMAS Adelaide yesterday evening hosted by the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes and the Australia’s Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Mark Hammon.