The UK Royal Navy’s amphibious transport dock ship HMS Albion (L14) arrived at the port of Jakarta, Indonesia for a scheduled port visit.
Dancers, musicians and TV cameras also flocked onto the quayside to mark the first visit by the Royal Navy to the country in nearly seven years.
A group of sailors and marines were given a very special insight into life in Jakarta when they were invited to visit Nuruz Zahroh Orphanage.
Chaplain Eddie Wills, who led the visit, said: “We would normally send a working party to help with painting or maintenance. This time, however, we were invited to experience a traditional Indonesian meal.
“As a Royal Navy Chaplain, my role in HMS Albion is to be a friend and advisor to all onboard, and to support those of all faiths and of none. I was aware that charitable giving is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, so it was somewhat profound to be on the receiving end.
Despite the fact that the community was comparatively poor, they still wanted to share what little they had with us. The generosity with which we were welcomed was very humbling indeed.
“Some of the older children tried out a few words of English, but even for the younger children language was no barrier. Once they overcame their initial shyness, there was much laughter and excitement.
“I think the experience made quite an impression on some of our younger sailors and marines too, and many had even bought sweets, T-shirts, teddy bears and other gifts from the NAAFI with their own money to give away.
“Having visited Nuruz Zahroh in 2011 and now again in 2018, the Royal Navy has clearly established a link with this particular orphanage. It’s my sincere hope that this can continue in the future, particularly if deployments to South East Asia become more frequent in the years ahead”.
LStd Amy-Jane Rose added: “Visiting the orphanage was a chance to glimpse the ‘real’ Jakarta that tourists would never usually see. I’m so glad we did because the children were lovely. I hope they have as fond memories of the visit as I do.”
Albion’s three-day visit saw the ship host a succession of diplomats, military officials and industry representatives for talks, while her embarked Royal Marines challenged their Indonesian counterparts to a flight deck Crossfit competition. The arrival and departure from Jakarta also offered the opportunity to exercise alongside the Indonesian Navy.
Consisting of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is one of the world’s most populous democracies, and the largest economy in South East Asia.
Capt Tim Neild, Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, said: “Indonesia, like the UK, is an island nation, dependent on maritime trade, and has the potential to be an economic powerhouse in the future.
“Our visit to Jakarta was hugely successful, and highlights exactly why HMS Albion was sent to the Far East in the first place – to work with the UK’s partners to promote peace, security and prosperity in a region that is growing in strategic significance.”