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HMS Spey trains alongside Australian patrol ships in Darwin

HMS Spey spent time in Darwin where she worked with Australian Navy patrol ship HMAS Wollongong. Picture: Australian Navy/POIS Peter Thompson
11 August 2022
HMS Spey has said goodbye to Australia after making a pitstop in Darwin for a crew swap and to take on supplies and fuel for the next leg of her Pacific patrol.

She also used her time in the Northern Territory to work with the Royal Australian Navy and share training and experiences of being an overseas patrol vessel deployed from the UK for up to five years.

Alongside her sister ship HMS Tamar, Spey is the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Indo-Pacific region and lessons learned from her maiden deployment were shared with the crews of HMAS Arafura and HMAS Wollongong.

The Australian patrols ships carry out tasks similar to that of Spey and Arafura’s commanding officer and several Royal Australian Navy officers spent time on the British ship.

Lieutenant Gareth Senior, Marine Engineer Officer on HMS Spey, said: “It was good to have our Royal Australian Counterparts on board and give them the opportunity to explore our ship and department.

“It gave them an opportunity to see what their future offshore patrol vessels will be like and also share experiences of operating in the South Pacific region.”

We will spend more time in and around Australia over the coming years, so increasing cooperation and sharing experience with one of our closest allies makes complete sense

Commander Mike Proudman, commanding officer of HMS Spey

HMAS Wollongong accompanied Spey out of Darwin and they took the chance to train their sailors in a number of exercises including Officer of the Watch manoeuvres. The close-quarters sailing teaches sailors how to navigate safely among other ships.

ET(ME) Jean-Pierre Fernandes spent time on HMAS Wollongong and found it to be a good learning experience.

“We were well received and welcomed,” he said.

“It gave me a different insight into how other navies operate ships of similar class and what their priorities are. This was good to get a comparison with the smaller vessels in the Royal Australian Navy.”

HMS Spey’s Commanding Officer Commander Mike Proudman said the ship’s time in Darwin had been useful for both his sailors and their Australian counterparts.

“The Australian officers that we hosted were part of their new patrol vessel programme,” he said.

“This is a valuable way to improve efficiency and pre-empt challenges and is a great demonstration of the deepening relationship between the UK and Australia.

“We will spend more time in and around Australia over the coming years, so increasing cooperation and sharing experience with one of our closest allies makes complete sense.”

He praised the way HMS Spey and Wollongong trained together, adding: “The manoeuvres were professional and competent and allowed both ships to train personnel on close quarters manoeuvring.

“It’s important to train basic maritime skills, for both ships companies, as it gives the basic grounding to enable us to operate safely in this challenging environment and for us to be able to build further, more complex warfare capability.”

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