Kakadu Task Groups form up

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT James McPherson (author), LSIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s):

Topic(s): HMAS Newcastle (F06), Exercise KAKADU

HMAS Newcastle leads Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy ship Huangshan, and Republic of Singapore Navy ships RSS Valiant and RSS Vigour, during officer of the watch manoeuvres as part of Exercise Kakadu 2018. (photo: LSIS James McDougall)
HMAS Newcastle leads Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy ship Huangshan, and Republic of Singapore Navy ships RSS Valiant and RSS Vigour, during officer of the watch manoeuvres as part of Exercise Kakadu 2018.

The sea phase of Exercise Kakadu has shifted up a gear, with coalition ships beginning a series of challenging and complex manoeuvres off the coast of the Northern Territory.

Four ships from Australia, Singapore and China, rehearsed procedures for manoeuvring warships so the units can confidently progress to more advanced scenarios.

HMAS Newcastle’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Mitchell Smith, said operating closely together is the first building block for effective operations at sea.

“Handling ships in close proximity is a fundamental part of being in a task group,” Lieutenant Smith said.

“These routines early in an exercise program allow us to coordinate with other ships using internationally recognised codes and ensure communications are clear and concise so we remain safe.

“During Kakadu, we also get the chance to train our junior officers in ship handling. Like driving a car, you need to get a feel for how the ship responds and how others around you move also.

“The skills that we drill during Exercise Kakadu enable Officers of the Watch to stay two or three steps ahead and get the task group operating as a cohesive unit.”

HMAS Newcastle was also tested as the embarked MH-60R helicopter was launched and recovered during the manoeuvring.

“You often have to handle multiple competing priorities and today’s ambitious program proved that Newcastle can successfully execute concurrent complex activities with international partners,” Lieutenant Smith said.

Exercise Kakadu’s sea phase will continue for a week.