Papua New Guinea
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Son sails in on Chinese Navy training ship

Joe Dalid is as tough as they come, a PNGDF veteran sailor of 37 years who hardly displays emotions but yesterday, underneath an overcast Fairfax Harbour sky.

Dalid allowed a tear or two to roll down his lined, weather-beaten face as he looked up at his son Pedro, standing tall and proud among 300 Chinese sailors on board a military vessel that docked in the harbour as part of training engagements between China and its friends in the Pacific region.

“I am proud to see my son rise up to take my place. Now I am ready to retire,” said Dalid, a navy warrant officer by rank.

“It has been his dream growing up, to be a sailor, and he is living his dream. And I’d like to think that he is doing it for his family and village also.”

“He carries my legacy on and for that I am proud,” an emotional Dalid said as he looked up at Pedro, whose physical stature sets up quite apart from the other sailors on deck.

“I will still mentor him to be a good naval officer and a good man.”

Pedro and his colleague Avei Maru are the two PNGDF Navy midshipmen who have been getting valuable, cutting edge maritime and weapons training on board the Chinese vessel for the past month as soon as it sailed out of China’s port of Quingdao in Shandong province.

“I grew up in the Manus naval base, and the discipline I grew up with, and being around the military, that inspired me to take up this career,” Pedro told the Post-Courier.

“When I wear this uniform I wear it with immense pride. I represent my family, my tribe and my people and the PNGDF. I have big dreams in the navy, and hopefully with more training and experience, I can achieve those dreams one day.

And what does he think about the training on the Chinese vessel?

“We got training on anti-piracy, weapons systems, the Chinese navigations systems, which are different from the training we got in Australia.

“Some of their technology is well advanced, which makes navigation much easier.”

Spending a month on the ship with Chinese sailors have given Pedro a new look on the Chinese and their culture.

“The Chinese are respectful and cultured. Language has been a barrier for us but we have a couple of Fijians (which is the only country in the Pacific that sends naval officers for exchange programs with China) who have learnt Chinese so they helped us out a bit, and our training coordinators also knew English so they helped us out.”

Before this training, Pedro spent more than four years in Australia for a maritime warfare officer training.

Back in PNG, he will be deployed to the Lombrum naval base in Manus.

From Port Moresby, the Chinese vessel will sail on to Fiji.