More than 17 ships and aircraft are descending on the Western Australian coast for one of the largest maritime warfare exercises held by the Royal Australian Navy.
The inaugural Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER will include some international participants, adding the opportunity to practice war fighting with language, customs and technology differences.
The Spanish Armada’s ESPS Cristobal Colon, as well as New Zealand’s HMNZ Ships Te Kaha and Endeavour and, for a brief period, Italian frigate ITS Caribiniere will all integrate into the Australian scenarios.
Exercise Director Captain Jim Hutton said the activity aimed to train ships to work together in a series of complex and dynamic warfare scenarios.
“With the recent acquisition of much larger ships, we are transitioning from a fleet optimised for single-ship operations to a new era of joint task group level expeditionary warfare,” he said.
“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.
“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, high end war fighting.”
The Royal Australian Air Force will also participate in scenarios, as will Defence elements based on Australia’s east coast.
Units ashore in a number of locations will integrate into the exercise to add complexity and reality.
A two week sea phase will incorporate anti-submarine and air defence exercises.
Between 27 February and10 March military activities will be conducted at sea and in coastal areas north of Perth in the vicinity of Lancelin, Geraldton and as far south as Geographe Bay.
The exercise includes the first visit to Western Australia by the amphibious ship, HMAS Adelaide which will be berthed at Fremantle Port until 27 February but will not be open to the public.