10 May 2023

Navy keeping COVID out of the Far North

| Matt Nicholls
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A NAVY crew of 28 stopped in Weipa last week, catching a little bit of respite after a stint in the Torres Strait to keep COVID-19 out of Australia.

Cape York Weekly was invited aboard Cape Fourcroy for a tour of the Australian Border Force vessel, which is being used by the navy for the special assignment.

“There’s not a lot of difference between this ship and our Armidale fleet,” said Commanding Officer Gary List, who has been in the Royal Australian Navy for the best part of 40 years.

“There are a few differences here and there but it operates in the same manner.”

Commander List said his crew was based out of Cairns and were like a family.

“When you have such a small team you have to work well together.”

Patrolling the Torres Strait near the Papua New Guinea border was relatively straight forward, he said.

“The locals up there know what we are doing,” he said.

“We’ve had to escort people to Saibai Island when they’ve needed medical assistance but we don’t get any trouble.”

Locals in the Torres Strait are the navy’s best ally, he said, letting them know when boats were coming in and out from PNG’s western province villages.

The Cape Fourcroy came to Weipa for some R&R, with sailors spending some time ashore to play golf and play trivia at the Alby.

“We’ll head back to Cairns first and then return to the Torres Strait,” Commander List said.

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