Exercise KAKADU 2014 concludes with sea battle over disputed territory

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

Location(s): Darwin

Topic(s): Exercises

HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Arunta conduct Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with Pakistan Navy Ship, PNS Saif during Exercise KAKADU 2014.  (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Arunta conduct Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with Pakistan Navy Ship, PNS Saif during Exercise KAKADU 2014.

The Royal Australian Navy’s largest maritime warfare exercise has ended after a final week of war games off the coast of Darwin between eight ships, 26 aircraft and over 1,200 people from 15 Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean navies. 

The exercise, held from 25 August - 12 September 2014, concluded with a ‘free play’ scenario where the friendly nations were divided into two fictional enemy forces to battle at sea over disputed territory. 

Exercise Director, Captain Heath Robertson, said the purpose of final sea phase was to test each nation’s ability to work together in a realistic and unpredictable warfare environment. 

“The exercise controllers in the headquarters ashore injected intelligence feeds into each force - ‘Blueland’ and ‘Redland’ - to lead them down a certain course of action, and test maritime interoperability.

“Both forces did exceptionally well and proved that the collaborative tactical planning and graduated training during the first two weeks of the exercise enabled us to understand and improve how each other work.

“We are very grateful for the hard work of all exercise attendees, and also the Darwin community for making us welcome.

“Exercises like KAKADU are important to the Defence of Australia and the region,” Captain Robertson said.

The fleet successfully conducted 19 helicopter operations, 18 air defence serials, 18 simulated anti-submarine exercises, 11 gun tracking or firings, four Replenishment at Sea serials, two Towing exercises and one Light Line Transfer. 

Coalition participation included JS Hatakaze from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, PNS Saif and PNS Nasr from the Pakistan Navy and BRP Ramon Alcraz from the Philippine Navy along with personnel from Bangladesh Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.    

The Royal Australian Navy was represented by HMA Ships Sydney, Stuart, Newcastle and Arunta along with S-70-B2 Seahawk, AS350BA Squirrel and MRH-90 helicopters. 

Royal Australian Air Force assets included 127 Hawks, F/A 18 Jets,  E-7A Wedgetail, AP-3C Orion aircraft,  LR35 Learjet and GAT36 Learjets.