A long-time resident of the Cox Peninsula says a Pakistani navy sailor who jumped ship in Darwin Harbour will struggle to survive in the rugged, sparsely populated scrub west of the city.
The sailor was onboard one of the navy vessels taking part in Exercise Kakadu, Australia's largest maritime exercise, which has 15 nations from the Asia Pacific participating this year.
A Defence spokeswoman said the man was from the Pakistani vessel PNS NASR, and police said he was reported missing at 4:30am CST on Sunday.
A backpack was found in the water and the sailor was spotted on the mainland in a fairly remote area by a caretaker from the local YMCA.
Cox Peninsula local Chris Chaplin has told 105.7 ABC Darwin that helicopters had spent Monday morning searching the Talc Head area, a short distance across Darwin Harbour from the CBD, but more than 100 kilometres by road from the city.
"If he's got no shoes and no supplies, you wouldn't think he'd last very long. It's tough country," he said.
"We live in the tropical environment and people think naturally think that means green grass and lots of rainfall, but of course we're at the end of the dry season.
"There's no fresh ground water over there. There's a handful of people that live there but the track in is as rough as rough.
"He can't follow the coastline, that coastline over that side of the harbour, it would be 80 to 90 per cent mangroves and mudflats, you can't just walk around the coastline to somewhere either.
"He's in a pretty rough spot that's for sure."
The defence adviser to Pakistan's High Commission in Australia, Brigadier Muhammad Asghar said authorities were trying to reach the man's family in Pakistan.
But he would not reveal the man's name and said a ground search is continuing.
A spokeswoman for Exercise Kakadu said the two-week exercise had not been affected by the incident.