Australian naval ship to visit Vietnam

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Australian naval frigate HMAS Ballarat

Australian warship HMAS Ballarat will pay a goodwill visit to Vietnam from August 22 to 26.

The ship, with a crew of 28 officers and 156 sailors, will berth at Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, according to the Australian consulate in the city.

Its commanding officer and crew will meet with senior officers and sailors from the Vietnamese People's Navy for a range of activities including professional exchanges.

They will also take part in sporting activities together with students from the HCMC-based Naval Technical College.

Group Captain Matthew Dudley, Australia's Defense Attaché in Vietnam, said the visit is an excellent opportunity to strengthen defense ties between the two countries, which were established in 1999 and recently strengthened following a meeting between their defense ministers in Canberra in February.

Australia has since 1999 trained over 1,300 Vietnamese military officers and is now helping the Army prepare for peacekeeping operations, he said.

Weighing 3,600 tons, the HMAS Ballarat is an ANZAC Class guided missile frigate armed with surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, and a 127-millimeter gun.

It is also fitted with a flight deck and a hangar for a multi-role helicopter.

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