Two mates from different navies who completed officer training together have been reunited in Tonga.
Royal Australian Navy Midshipman Callum Masters and Tongan Navy Midshipman Paula Ulakai, who both trained in HMAS Creswell in 2020, enjoyed a contactless reunion on a wharf at Tongan navy headquarters.
Midshipman Masters was in Tonga as part of Operation Tonga Assist 2022, which is the Australian Defence Force’s response to the Pacific island nation following the devastation caused by a tsunami that followed an underwater volcanic eruption on January 15.
“To come to Tonga and help Tonga in a time of need and manage to reunite with a friend was quite special,” Midshipman Masters said.
Midshipman Ulakai said the experience was “pretty surreal”.
The pair met for the first time in a lunch line on the first day of New Entry Officer Course 63.
“We ended up just chatting. We were both in the same division and have remained mates since,” Midshipman Masters said.
Midshipman Ulakai has fond memories of his time in Australia.
“It was pretty different from here in Tonga. It was really good to experience how the Royal Australian Navy works,” Midshipman Ulakai said.
“It really helped me to develop as an officer and to bring those skills back home.
“I am really thankful for the friendships that I made."
Midshipman Masters came ashore for the reunion in a RAN rigid-hull inflatable boat after a formation entry into Nuku’alofa Harbour by HMA Ships Adelaide, Canberra and Supply.
More Operation Tonga Assist 2022 photos can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.