An engagement at sea between HMAS Arunta and a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion has provided a unique training opportunity for a fortunate sailor.  

Leading Seaman Combat Systems Operator Aircraft Controller Lachlan Dukes was an hour away from achieving a dual-aircraft control skill upgrade when the encounter with the aircraft during a recent Operation Argos patrol provided the opportunity to complete it.

“When you achieve a skill-level upgrade it allows you to control a greater number of aircraft, which is obviously a benefit to the ship, command and the Navy,” Leading Seaman Dukes said.

“This was a great moment in my career and I appreciate all the support I received from my shipmates in helping make it happen.”

Arunta and the Kiwi aircraft are supporting the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on North Korea, known in Australia as Operation Argos.

Commanding Officer Arunta Commander Troy Duggan celebrated his sailor’s achievement and the cooperation with the Kiwis. 

“Australia and New Zealand share a deep history of operating together in pursuit of shared national interests,” Commander Duggan said.

“The crew appreciated the opportunity to see our Kiwi cousins up here, so far away from our homes, contributing to an important mission.

“This meeting also presented the correct operating environment and number of aircraft for Leading Seaman Dukes to advance his skill level.

“It is a remarkable achievement for Leading Seaman Dukes and for Arunta as it gives us a higher level of proficiency in a critical area of maritime warfare.

“Given that we have been operating as a single air asset unit since we left Darwin on October 11, it was great to be able to give Lachlan that final hour he needed.”

Operation Argos deployments support international efforts to monitor and deter North Korean ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods.

Arunta will return to her home port of Fleet Base West, Western Australia, later this year.