Australia's Fleet Commander calls on counterparts to unite across the region

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), ABIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s): Parliament House, Darwin, NT

Topic(s): Exercise KAKADU

Senior Naval Officers from Exercise KAKADU participating nations listen to Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead  deliver his keynote address at the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Building in Darwin.  (photo: ABIS James McDougall)
Senior Naval Officers from Exercise KAKADU participating nations listen to Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead deliver his keynote address at the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Building in Darwin.

Fleet Commanders and their representatives from 27 countries have held high-level discussions in Darwin aimed at strengthening regional cooperation in the maritime domain.

Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead hosted the Fleet Commanders' Conference at the iconic Parliament House building in the city. The gathering is part of KAKADU 18, the biannual joint exercise taking place both ashore and at sea off the Northern Territory coast.

In his keynote address to the conference, Admiral Mead underscored the need to strengthen relationships and build partnerships in order to promote a free and open international order.

“More than ever, the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is very much becoming the world’s focus,” Admiral Mead said.

“Without strong relationships and cooperation, we are all hard-pressed to respond to the needs of the region – needs such as humanitarian aid, disaster relief, counter-piracy and search and rescue.”

Fleet Commander told the delegates they each had an opportunity to demonstrate on the global stage how navies in the Indo Asian Pacific region can work together to achieve a shared outcome.

“Importantly, we have the opportunity to increase our confidence, cooperation and capability, develop deep working level relationships, and better appreciate the real strategic value of how we operate together in our region,” Admiral Mead said.

Royal Australian Navy Commodore Warfare, Commodore Ivan Ingham provided an introduction to the event noting the strategic significance of Darwin. He said the city's port welcomed more than 1400 vessels annually.

The conference also provided a forum for the visiting Fleet Commanders to provide their perspectives on a range of issues including safety, security, piracy and frameworks for cooperation.

The conference was held for the first time in 2016 and is now a permanent fixture of the biannual KAKADU event.