PANO - The Royal Australian Navy warship, HMAS Ballarat, with a crew of 28 officers and 156 sailors will pay a five-day goodwill visit to Ho Chi Minh City, starting from August 22nd.

According to the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, the port visit is expected to strengthen the relationship between the two navies and to enhance the nation to nation ties between Australia and Vietnam.

During their visit, the guided missile frigate Ballarat’s commanding officer and crew will meet with senior officers and sailors from the Vietnamese People’s Navy to engage in a range of goodwill activities and to conduct a professional exchange on ship operations.

The crew will also participate in a friendly sporting activity with cadets at the Naval Technical College as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to explore Vietnam’s rich culture and to meet the people of Vietnam.

“This visit an excellent opportunity to build upon the Australian Vietnam Defence cooperation relationship that commenced in 1999 and has recently been reaffirmed at the meeting between our two Defence Ministers in Canberra in February 2013”, stated Group Captain Matthew Dudley, Australian Defence Attaché in Vietnam, adding that “since 1999, the Australian Defence Force has trained over 1,300 Vietnam People’s Army officers in Vietnam and Australia and is now assisting the Vietnam People’s Army to prepare for a future role in peacekeeping operations”.

HMAS Ballarat is an ANZAC Class guided missile frigate with roles including air defence, anti-submarine and surface warfare, surveillance, interdiction and reconnaissance. Weighing 3,600 tons and 118 metres in length, HMAS Ballarat is armed with Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, Harpoon Block 2 Anti-ship missiles, a Mk 45 127 millimetre gun and six Mk 32 torpedo tubes. Ballarat is also fitted with a flight deck and a hangar for a multi-role S-70B-2 Sea Hawk helicopter and has a top speed of 27 knots.

Chung Anh