HMAS Ballarat remembers Okinawa
8 June 2012
The ship’s company of Anzac Class Frigate HMAS Ballarat has conducted a memorial service off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, to pay respects to the hundreds of thousands of people that lost their lives during the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War.
In 1945, the 82 day long Battle of Okinawa resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. More than 100,000 Japanese, and 65,000 allied soldiers, sailors and airmen, mostly from the United States, were lost during the battle. Tens of thousands of local civilians were also killed.
Ballarat is in Japan conducting Exercise Pacific Bond with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and the United States Navy, and took time out from the activity to hold a remembrance service on her flight deck.
The battle holds historical significance for the Ballarat, which carries the Battle Honours of the Royal Australian Navy corvette HMAS Ballarat I, which served with the British Fleet in Okinawa during the conflict.
A Japanese Maritime Defence Force Officer taking part in a week-long exchange onboard Ballarat also took part in the service, by reading The Prayer for Peace.
Ballarat’s Commanding Officer, Commander Jonathan Earley, said the opportunity to reflect on the past reminded his crew of how far the three nations have come.
“We’re here in Japan to reinforce the strong relationships we have with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and the US Navy, and to ensure our Navies can work together to achieve missions such as the counter-piracy activities we’re conducting in the Gulf of Aden.”
“Looking back on the sad events of the past, we can be very proud of the progress we’ve made over the last 67 years, and of the strong friendships we have today,” said Commander Earley.
Ballarat will spend the weekend in Okinawa, before setting sail for Guam. The ship has spent the past four months in North East Asia, on a mission to promote good-will and Defence relationships in the region. She’ll return to her homeport of Garden Island, Sydney, at the end of the month.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003=&search=11123227.
Vision was fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House at 1635.
Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999