Across late October and early November, Royal Australian Navy frigates HMA Ships Melbourne and Parramatta visited the Republic of Korea for the biennial maritime anti-submarine warfare exercise HAEDOLI WALLABY.
Arriving alongside in Busan, Australian personnel and their Korean Navy counterparts commenced the harbour phase of the exercise, enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation through a series of table-top briefings, damage control demonstrations, practical scenarios and a game of soccer.
Marking the exercise opening, the Commodore Warfare, Commodore Ivan Ingham, highlighted how the exercise reinforces the importance Australia places on strengthening strategic dialogue and training, as well as capability and defence materiel cooperation with its North Asia partner.
“The defence relationship we share is an important component of the broader bilateral relationship,” Commodore Ingham said.
“Australia welcomes the opportunity to undertake defence engagement with the Republic of Korea.”
Concluding the harbour phase, the Commanding Officers of both Melbourne and Parramatta, accompanied by members of ship’s company, attended the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea with members of the Republic of Korea Navy to pay their respects and lay a wreath on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy.
In the sea phase of the exercise, the Australian ships joined with ROKS Sun Cheon, Sungnam, Jeonbuk, and Munmu the Great to hone their anti-submarine warfighting skills, improve core mariner proficiencies and professional standards, and to test communications interoperability.
Commander Charles Bourne, Commanding Officer Melbourne, said Australia’s cooperation with the Republic of Korea on defence and security matters extends back to the Korean War.
“We are even more closely linked today through a strong set of shared defence and security interests,” he said.
“The Republic of Korea is an important security partner in the region and we seek to continue to work together to address shared security challenges.”
On conclusion of the exercise, the crews of both ships enjoyed a short period of respite alongside the newly established Jeju Civil-Military port, with the two frigates being the first Australian warships to visit the base.
The ships visited the Republic of Korea from 27 October – 6 November. Both ships conducted port visits to Busan and Jeju Island as part of the international engagement activity.
HAEDOLI WALLABY is the Australian Navy’s only bilateral exercise conducted with the Republic of Korea Navy and is the Republic’s only named warfare-focused exercise conducted with a nation other than the United States.