Exchanges Strengthen Australia-Thai Relations

Department of Defence

Relations between Australia and Thailand were enhanced through a port visit by Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramunga.

Warramunga visited the Royal Thai Naval Base at Sattahip, near Pattaya City, south of Bangkok for a six-day visit as part of a three-month Indo-Pacific regional presence deployment.

The ship and crew were warmly welcomed on arrival at Sattahip Naval Base by Captain Thongchai Khamaphan of the Royal Thai Navy, accompanied by Australian Defence Attaché Group Captain Ritchie Cunningham.

On arrival, Commanding Officer Warramunga Commander Jennifer Graham was presented a Phuang malai – a traditional Thai floral garland given to honoured guests as a sign of respect.

The visit program focused on diplomatic engagements including official calls by Commander Graham, accompanied by Warramunga’s Command Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Chris Wilson, and Group Captain Cunningham, with various Royal Thai Navy senior leaders.

Official gifts were exchanged and discussions held on regional maritime security matters of mutual interest before the visit was formally recorded in the distinguished visitor’s log.

An official function on the frigate’s flight deck, arranged by the Australian Embassy in Thailand, brought together about 100 guests, including Royal Thai Navy representatives, Australian and Thailand government officials, Thai business and community leaders and Australian expatriate citizens in Thailand.

The function showcased the culinary skills of Warramunga’s chefs, who served generous examples of Australian cuisine.

Official addresses were delivered by Commander Graham and Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Dr Angela Macdonald, before the evening culminated in a traditional navy ceremonial sunset performed by the ship’s ceremonial guard.

Members of Warramunga’s ship’s company were also hosted at an official welcome function by the Royal Thai Navy at the Sattahip Naval Base. Cultural performances, official gifts and some combined karaoke fun all helped further deepen friendships between the two navies.

The Royal Thai Navy Band and a contingent of officers and sailors were on the wharf to farewell Warramunga as the frigate headed back out to sea, rendering passing honours to the Thai aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet on the way.

Commander Graham said she and her ship’s company enjoyed the warm welcome and generous hospitality of their Royal Thai Navy hosts.

“Warramunga was pleased to have this opportunity to engage with such an important regional partner through this visit, and to be so warmly welcomed,” Commander Graham said.

“Our two nations are long-standing regional security partners and Australia is honoured to be counted among those nations with which Thailand conducts bilateral and multilateral training across all services.”

Since the appointment of the first Australian Defence Attaché to Thailand in 1955, several formal agreements have been established, including the 1986 Thailand-Australia Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Australian Defence Cooperation Programme and the Australia-Thailand Strategic Partnership and Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement, both signed in 2020.

Australians have served alongside Thai personnel in multilateral exercises and activities and as part of international coalitions such as in East Timor and through contributions to the Combined Maritime Forces patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

Australia and Thailand conduct biennial AusThai exercises, hold regular bilateral Navy-to-Navy dialogues and host reciprocal visits.

The most recent previous visits were by Warramunga’s sister ships HMA Ships Perth and Arunta in 2022, both during regional presence deployments.

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