PRIDE OF FLEET KEY PART OF EX­ER­CISES

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­DREW BACK­HOUSE an­drew. back­house@ news. com. au

FRAN­CIS Molo has broken his si­lence over the fa­tal tackle on James Ack­er­man, claim­ing he didn’t de­lib­er­ately shoul­der charge his op­po­nent and the col­li­sion was so pow­er­ful he “didn’t have the chance to wrap my arms around him”.

Molo was emo­tional while giv­ing ev­i­dence on day three of an in­quest into Ack­er­man’s death after a June 2015 In­trust Su­per Cup match.

“I wasn’t go­ing in to shoul­der charge,” he said.

“I was there to do my job and tackle hard.”

The Bris­bane Coroner’s Court heard Molo, who had been play­ing for Norths Devils, was sur­prised at how straight Ack­er­man was run­ning at him be­fore the im­pact.

“I was a bit scared my­self,” he said. “The col­li­sion was so big I didn’t have a chance to wrap my arms around him.”

While one of Ack­er­man’s Sun­shine Coast Fal­cons team­mates claimed this week that Molo’s arm was tucked into his hip and he’d turned side- on as he hit the for­ward, Molo said yes­ter­day he was “front on”.

Molo, who last week joined the Townsville Black­hawks, said he did push the in­jured player a “lit­tle bit” as he lay on the ground as he didn’t re­alise how crit­i­cal the sit­u­a­tion was. The in­quest con­tin­ues.

KATE MCKENNA THE pride of Aus­tralia’s navy, HMAS Can­berra, docked at Port of Townsville yes­ter­day ahead of the largest joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in­volv­ing our na­tion and the United States.

And for Lieu­tenant Rebecca Avila, Ex­er­cise Tal­is­man Saber is not just the pinnacle of years of train­ing – it’s also a chance to see her hus­band, par­ents and dog.

HMAS Can­berra is the largest ship in the Royal Aus­tralian Navy. It is docked in Townsville to load troops and equip­ment and, for the first time, a tank. It is in town ahead of Ex­er­cise Tal­is­man Saber 2017 this month, the prin­ci­pal train­ing ex­er­cise of the Aus­tralian and United States mil­i­tary.

The ex­er­cise will fo­cus on the plan­ning and con­duct of mid- in­ten­sity “high end” warfight­ing in the air, land and mar­itimei i do­mains. Lieut. Avila had pre­vi­ously been posted in Townsville for about two years and still calls the city home.

“Dur­ing those two years I helped HMAS Can­berra work up to the state she is in now so it’s awe­some to be on board as a deputy lo­gis­tics of­fi­cer and sup­port the ex­er­cise from the sea,” she said.

HMAS Can­berra’s cap­tain Ash­ley Papp said the most im­por­tant part of the ex­er­cise was the peo­ple.

“The crew of the ship is about 450 peo­ple and we take about 900 troops on board, de­pend­ing on what the mis­sion is,” he said. “Our pri­mary job is to go places and help peo­ple and do what­ever it is our gov­ern­ment wants us to do.

“I’ve got army, navy and air force as part of my crew.

“Some­thing like this ex­er­cise, where we’re bring­ing those el­e­ments to­gether in what is the best train­ing area in the world, is a great op­por­tu­nity.

“It’s a very sen­si­tive envi- ron­ment and we’re very con­scious of that.”

Capt Papp said the Navy had con­sulted with con­ser­va­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­wards. At times, the Navy pauses it’s ac­tiv­i­ties to al­low whales to pass through undis­turbed.

Com­man­der of the Tal­is­man Saber Am­phibi­ous Taskf force Cap­tain Brett Son­ter said h he was pleased to be back in T Townsville.

“For us, this re­ally does mark the start of Ex­er­cise Tal­is­man Saber 2017,” he said.

“For the next cou­ple of days we’ll be load­ing a lot of the em­bark force that we in­tend to take ( on the ex­er­cise).

“They’re mostly com­prised of your army el­e­ments that you see in the city of Townsville.”

Capt Son­ter said the ex­er­cise rep­re­sented a key mile­stone in the am­phibi­ous ca­pa­bil­ity for Aus­tralia.

“My force will be 1600strong and it will build on the suc­cess we’ve had on our am­phibi­ous ca­pa­bil­ity,” he said.

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