All three branches of the Australian Defence Force showed each other what they were made of during Exercise JOINT STRIKE held at Beecroft Weapons Range, Jervis Bay from 31 August to 4 September.
JOINT STRIKE was part of the SEA SERIES of exercises being held off North Queensland.
Commanding Officer HMAS Stuart, Commander Aaron Nye said Stuart was playing an important role in JOINT STRIKE.
“Today we will be providing counter-battery sustained fire ashore in support of troops on the ground, which is an important aspect in support of amphibious operations,” he said.
According to Commander Nye, the activity was a great experience for all the ship’s company.
“We took members of the ship’s company ashore to spend time with both Air Force and Army personnel,” he said.
“I think the biggest thing for this exercise is the fact we are working together as a team to improve our amphibious capabilities into the future.
“In terms of us conducting joint operations and joint exercises with the Army and Air Force, it has been a fulfilling experience and I think it shows us how important the other two services are in terms of fulfilling what we need to achieve.”
Commander Nye said the ship had three diggers on board and they enjoyed the experience.
“We gave them some sea sickness tablets when they got on board yesterday and they are doing fine,” he said.
“It’s important they integrate with the crew on board and they will also be able to observe what we do and how we support the troops on the ground.
“Stuart’s ship’s company is enjoying participating in this exercise and it’s important we work with the Army and Air Force.”
Gunnery officer Lieutenant Joshua Cowell hosted the Army visitors and said it was great having them onboard.
“They’re really keen to learn, which is good, so I hope we’ve imparted some sort of understanding of what it’s like on our end with the calls for fire,” he said.
“It’s also good for the guys we’ve sent ashore.
“They’ll get an understanding of what happens when a target’s been discovered and designated for a strike or surface fires.”
Lieutenant Cowell said it was important all services learnt to work together.
“With the new LHDs it’s important we have interoperability between the services because the direction the Australian Defence Force is taking is of one joint force,” he said.
“So an understanding of how each of the services operates, and what our specific roles are in the bigger picture, is going to allow us to do our job in the best way possible and to provide the best service to those who are relying on us ashore.”
Able Seaman Combat Systems Operators Patrick Dalton and Daniel Graham were two members of Stuart’s ship’s company who took the opportunity to work alongside the Army ashore.
They spent a morning on the mortar line with members of 2nd Batallion Royal Australian Regiment’s mortar section.
Able Seaman Dalton, who works in the operations room, said he put up his hand to come ashore because in a ship there was rarely any chance to experience what happens on land.
He was on the mortar line during a fire mission.
“It was exhilarating because I was that close to the action, with Stuart’s 5-inch gun firing at the same time,” he said.
“Having tri-service cooperation builds a better Defence force.”
Able Seaman Graham said it was good to see how naval gunfire support was coordinated with mortars.
“We’re all working toward one goal and using all the Australian Defence Force’s resources to achieve one objective is a good thing,” he said.
“It was a good experience being on the other end of the comms to see how it works from the Army’s side.”
2nd Batallion Royal Australian Regiment mortarman, Private Trent Clark, said Able Seamen Dalton and Graham went really well on the mortar line.
“They did everything that was asked of them,” he said.
“They looked like they were enjoying it and it was a big change from what they do on their ship as radar operators.
“It’s always good to work in a triservice environment, and with 2nd Batallion Royal Australian Regiment going amphibious, we should all know what each other can do.”
Imagery from SEA SERIES exercises is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152274.