Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER has kicked off in Sydney with the first warships departing for a three week series of naval exercises involving forces from both sides of the Tasman and the British frigate HMS Sutherland.
The first ten warships, accompanied by two submarines and with embarked aircraft left the Sydney Heads on Tuesday morning for what will be the second iteration of the sea control exercise. Testing various aspects of maritime warfare the vessels will be engaged in a variety of tasks up and down the New South Wales coast.
Participating vessels include the Australian flagship helicopter carrier HMAS Canberra, auxiliary HMAS Success, frigates HMA Ships Toowoomba, Anzac, Stuart and Melbourne and the submarine HMAS Farncomb. They will be joined by the Royal New Zealand Navy’s ANZAC class frigate HMNZS Te Mana and, briefly, the British Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland.
Speaking at the departure exercise director, Captain Jim Hutton RAN said this year’s OCEAN EXPLORER was about building on the success of last year.
“Last year’s Ocean Explorer saw the certification of a Sea Control Task Group for the Australian Defence Force – a first in recent times,” he said.
“In short succession, we deployed maritime task groups in complex multinational exercises such as TALISMAN SABRE and used them to excellent effect in the inaugural Joint Maritime Task Group deployment INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2017.
This year’s OCEAN EXPLORER is about continuing that exponential growth and ensuring we can hone our maritime warfare skills to meet any contingency.”
Exercises will occur between Jervis Bay on the south coast and Maitland Bay on the hunter coast. Activities will test anti-air and anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and interdiction, command and control and ultimately and amphibious landing from the Canberra in the Bass Strait.
“The main aim of the exercise is to develop our task group capability, to operate a number of ships under one commander and focus primarily on sea control operations,” Captain Hutton said.
“This can include the full spectrum of maritime security operations; from diplomacy and international engagement at one end, through to humanitarian and disaster relief, constabulary and peacekeeping operations, and at the upper end of the spectrum, warfighting.”