The Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Ballarat will visit Vietnam from August 22-26 to strengthen the relationship between the two navies and two countries. A media release from the Australian Embassy in Hanoi says the guided missile frigate Ballarat will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on August 22 with a crew of 28 officers and 156 sailors. The Commanding Officer and crew will meet with senior officers and sailors from the Vietnamese People’s Navy to engage in a range of goodwill activities and to conduct a professional exchange on ship operations. The crew will also participate in a friendly sporting activity with cadets at the Naval Technical College as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to explore Vietnam’s rich culture and to meet local people. Group Captain Matthew Dudley, Australian Defence Attaché in Vietnam, said this visit is an excellent opportunity to build upon the Australia-Vietnam defence cooperation relationship that commenced in 1999 and has recently been reaffirmed at the meeting between the two Defence Ministers in Canberra in February 2013. Since 1999, the Australian Defence Force has trained over 1,300 Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) officers in Vietnam and Australia and is now assisting the VPA to prepare for a future role in peacekeeping operations.