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Fijian patrol boat training

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L-R: Major Timoci Naivalu, Barry Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Petero Talemaivatuwiri, Lieutenant Ben Salacakau, Warrant Officer Scott Campbell

A Fijian military delegation visited Tasmania to see first-hand the training that AMC Search, the commercial arm of the Australian Maritime College, provides to their country’s patrol boat officers.

For 25 years, AMC Search has been running training for South Pacific Island patrol boat workforces, under contract to the Department of Defence.

Around 160 students a year come to Tasmania to train in all aspects of running the pacific patrol boats —from cook to captain — before returning to their countries to put their new-found skills into practice.  

Lieutenant Colonel Petero Talemaivatuwiri, Commanding Officer, Force Training Group; Major Timoci Naivalu, Chief Staff Officer, Training and Doctrine; and Lieutenant Ben Salacakau, Training Officer, Republic of Fiji Navy, made the stop in Launceston as part of an Australian military training tour.

The three Fijian military training organisation heads toured the Australian Maritime College’s training facilities and met the people responsible for training their country’s participants in the Pacific Patrol Boat Program.

They visited the College’s Beauty Point campus, which runs a fleet of training vessels for seamanship courses, and toured the College’s simulation facilities, survival centre and engineering workshops.

Lieutenant Ben Salacakau said that seeing for himself what the Fijian pacific patrol boat students do at AMC Search left him impressed.

“It’s my first visit to AMC Search and I’m amazed at the facilities and what our students do when they are here.

I’m amazed at the facilities and what our students do when they are here.

“They come back to our naval base after the training and they are totally professional in what they do.”

Steering a vessel

Image: Lieutenant Colonel Petero Talemaivatuwiri steering a vessel in the College's ship operation cubicle simulator.

Pacific Patrol Boat Training Contract Manager, Barry Jones, explained that the fact-finding visit was important for AMC Search.

“AMC Search has been passionately involved in the Pacific Patrol Boat program for over 25 years now, and we see ourselves as a partner rather than a training provider.

AMC Search has been passionately involved in the Pacific Patrol Boat program for over 25 years now.

“So it’s fantastic to be able to welcome the Fijian delegates and show them what we do here for trainees from their country — and demonstrate how invested our people are in delivering the patrol boat training.”

Fiji historically sent around 20 trainees a year to AMC Search, but the country dropped out of the Pacific Patrol Boat Program from 2007 until 2015. This is the first Fijian defence training visit to Australia since their re-entry to the program.

Lieutenant Salacakau said that the country was now playing catch-up with the training.

“After an eight-year break, we’re now glad to be back in the Pacific Patrol Boat Program.

“Soon we’ll receive new pacific patrol boats, so it’s very important to us that we’re back in the system and sending trainees to AMC Search.”

Published on: 09 Jun 2017