The helicopter carrier Canberra, which at 27,000 tonnes is the largest ship in the Royal Australian Navy, arrived in Phuket along with HMAS Newcastle as part of the Royal Australian Navy Indo-Pacific Endeavour 19 (IPE 19) deployment, which set sail from Fremantle in Western Australia on March 11.
A total of 1,000 personnel will carry out a series of engagement activities and military training exercises during port visits in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
“The Australian Defence Force (ADF) enjoys a long-standing relationship with security forces throughout South and Southeast Asia,” defense industry minister Linda Reynolds said in Freemantle.
“These relationships are strengthened by annual exercises and engagements, such as the Indo-Pacific Endeavour series.”
The first port call for the flagship of the group, landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra, was Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Now in Phuket, personnel on board the Canberra and the Newcastle will take part in local military exercises as well as key social projects.
Duirng their stay, Australian military personnel will work with the Royal Thai Navy, police and disaster-prevention agencies in a number of training activities, including a tabletop exercise on maritime security in which they’ll team up to solve a simulated search-and-rescue.
The Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Allan McKinnon, said the visit is an important opportunity to cooperate in security and stability for the region.
“Thailand is a very important security partner for Australia,” he said.
“Our cooperation spans defence, counter-terrorism, border protection, combatting transnational crime and preventing human trafficking and people smuggling.”
On land, personnel today assisted with the clean-up on Koh Siray. As mentioned in previous articles by The Phuket News – Trash Talk and Stirrings of Change (see stories here and here) – Koh Siray is the poorest area of Phuket, home to around 10,000 people, including a village of 1,000 sea gypsies, Myanmar fishing workers and disadvantaged families with very poor housing.