Defence forces boost ties

Members of the Australian Navy, Fiji Navy and Republic of Fiji Military Forces on board the HMAS Adelaide. Picture: VISHAL KUMAR

THE relationship between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) was boosted with the arrival of two Royal Australian Navy vessels in Suva yesterday.

The HMAS Adelaide, which has landing helicopter dock ship, and HMAS Melbourne, a guided missile frigate, are in the country enroute to Hawaii to participate in an exercise called Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said the visit by the two vessels was about further strengthening the connectivity between the ADF and the RFMF.

“Over the next 54 hours or so while the ships are here, there will be range of activities focusing on improving interoperability for the ADF and the RFMF in disaster relief responses and there will also be a range of community activities taken on by the ship’s crew with sporting events as well,” Mr Feakes said.

He added the visit was a visible and tangible demonstration of the Australian Government’s commitment in stepping up its relations with the Pacific and Fiji.

Mr Feakes also paid tribute to the bravery and the sacrifice of Fijian soldiers in UN peacekeeping duties over the past 40 years.

“They have served in dangerous and difficulty missions and they have served in places in particular that others were not willing to serve,” he said.

Mr Feakes said the visit was a bilateral exercise and was planned for months and thanked the RFMF. The visit is part of the 2016 Defence White Paper commitment to deepen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.

The HMAS Adelaide crew also includes eight Fijian sea-riders from the RFMF. The also marks HMAS Adelaide’s first visit to Fiji.

*PROGRAM:

– Today: 3-4.30pm Centenary for combined church service;
– Monday: HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Melbourne crew take part in joint mangrove planting exercise with RFMF (8am-11 am); and
– Monday: Joint refurbishment works at the WOWS Kids Fiji Resource Centre.