Coalition fleet sails for warfare at sea

Published on LCDR Lauren Rago (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin

Topic(s): Exercises

Four ships from the eight-strong coalition fleet prepare to sail from Darwin for major warfare activities at sea during Exercise KAKADU 2014.  (photo: )
Four ships from the eight-strong coalition fleet prepare to sail from Darwin for major warfare activities at sea during Exercise KAKADU 2014.

The KAKADU 2014 fleet has sailed from Darwin to conduct major maritime warfare serials in the North Australian Exercise Area including gunnery, air defence, flying operations and more.

The eight-strong fleet of warships includes the Royal Australian Navy’s HMA Ships Sydney, Stuart, Arunta and Newcastle, the Japanese Navy’s JS Hatazake, the Pakistan Navy’s PNS Saif and PNS Nasr and the Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcraz.

In support of the exercise are fixed wing aircraft ranging from Fast Jets to AP-3C and helicopters from Australia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines and New Zealand.

Exercise Director, Captain Heath Robertson, said for two weeks at sea, the ships, aircraft and staff will test their warfare prowess, and importantly improve their ability to work together in a maritime warfare world.

“The exercise entails a graduated approach to training. We start small but hard, with major surface gun firings and air defence serials – which entail Royal Australian Air Force Fast Jets flying over ships simulating ‘attack’ craft.

“Then, we will build up to a final ‘free play’ event where a complex warfare scenario will be created, and injected into the exercise for participants to respond to.

“I can’t say what that scenario will be just yet, as it will spoil the element of surprise for the ships, but it will create an environment where all participants will respond to multiple threats and work together as a cohesive and powerful fleet.

“We will also refuel while underway with the Pakistan Navy’s oiler PNS Nasr, the value of which cannot be underestimated.

“It was quite a pleasure to see the warships, as a coalition fleet, depart for the sea phases of the exercise this weekend,” Captain Robertson said.

Embarked in the Royal Australian Navy warships are observers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand, who are watching proceedings and providing valuable input.

The warships and their sea riders will divide into two Task Groups known as ‘Blue Force’ and ‘Red Force’ led by Sydney and Stuart respectively.

KAKADU is the Royal Australian Navy’s largest maritime exercise for the year. It is being held from 25 August – 12 September 2014.