8 Feb 2020

Australian naval ship to visit Vanuatu's Lugainville

12:19 pm on 8 February 2020

An Australian naval ship is due to dock at a Chinese-built wharf in Vanuatu this weekend.

The Daily Post reports that the HMAS Leeuwin is enroute to Solomon Islands to undertake hydrographic work.

It is due to stop in at Vanuatu's main northern town of Luganville tomorrow for a three-day visit.

Lugainville's dual-use wharf became the subject of international attention after being completed in 2017.

Vanuatu's government has repeatedly denied that the wharf could be used as a Chinese military base.

Meanwhile, this weekend's naval visit is the latest in a series of Australian ship visits to Vanuatu since last year.

Australia's Defence Force has increased engagements with Vanuatu's Police Force, as well as training and exercises across the country.

The naval ship's visit is the first Royal Australian Navy visit to Luganville since 2017.

HMAS Huon docked at Luganville on Espiritu Santo.

HMAS Huon docked at Luganville on Espiritu Santo. Photo: RNZ/Koroi Hawkins