Partnerships matter - Exercise Kakadu wraps up in Darwin

This article has photo gallery Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer), POIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, NT

Topic(s): Exercise KAKADU

The Exercise Kakadu 2018 multinational fleet in formation off the coast of Darwin. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
The Exercise Kakadu 2018 multinational fleet in formation off the coast of Darwin.

Australia’s largest maritime exercise has wrapped up in the Top End, following an intensive two weeks of realistic and challenging engagements from the air and the sea.

Held every two years, Exercise Kakadu is hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force. This was the fourteenth iteration of Exercise Kakadu, having begun in 1993 and most recently conducted in 2016.

Commander Australian Fleet, RADM Jonathan Mead says the success of Exercise Kakadu is thanks to the significant efforts made by all involved.

“When Kakadu 2018 began, I mentioned that this was the chance to improve confidence, cooperation and capability,” Fleet Commander said.

“I am delighted to report that this has been achieved.

“The success of Exercise Kakadu is due to the combined efforts of those members at sea and in the air who carried out their mission effectively and safely. 

“I also acknowledge the efforts of supporting organisations from our International Friends, the RAAF, and the broader Fleet Command, particularly the Navy’s Force Generation Directorate.”

An Indonesian Navy CN235-220 MPA maritime patrol aircraft crew with Australian Defence Force personnel at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Kakadu 2018.

An Indonesian Navy CN235-220 MPA maritime patrol aircraft crew with Australian Defence Force personnel at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Kakadu 2018.

More than 3000 personnel participated in Exercise Kakadu. Split into three Task Groups, this was the RAN’s most important regional engagement of the year. HMA Ships Newcastle, Stuart, Melbourne, Sirius, Glenelg and Maitland were among 23 ships from 28 nations who participated in a wide range of activities including replenishments at sea, air defence exercises and gunnery. Air operations were also intensive with 21 aircraft joining the fleet for exercises in anti-submarine surface warfare training.

A feature of Exercise Kakadu 2018 has been the presence of so many diverse and influential maritime nations including China, as well as India and Sri Lanka who all sent ships for the first time.

Navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boats were also been busy working with partners from the south-west Pacific. Fiji and Tonga attended with their own vessels with observers from several others including Timor Leste and Tuvalu.

RADM Mead says their involvement in Exercise Kakadu 2018 has been most welcome.

“Our focus with the small boats has been on working together to maintain regional security including countering illegal fishing and organised crime,’ RADM Mead said.

“With this in mind, our Patrol Boat crews have worked very closely with south-west Pacific members on a series of maritime skills including boardings.

“The relationships built here further strengthen Australia’s reputation as a reliable and professional regional partner.  

“We look forward to seeing our partners back here in 2020.”

Exercise Kakadu 2018 – fast facts

A total of 23 Fleet units, 21 aircraft, and more than 3000 personnel participated in Exercise Kakadu 2018.

  • They have spent 3500 hours at sea

  • Covered 42,000 nautical miles (77,784km)

  • Taken part in 103 activities

  • Spent 54 hours hunting submarines

  • Participated in 11 live gunnery serials

  • Air assets have spent 140 hours on air surveillance operations

  • Used more than1000 rounds of large calibre ammunition

  • Used more than 4500 rounds of small arms ammunition

  • Eaten 80,000 meals

Imagery for Exercise Kakadu 2018 is available for viewing/download from the Defence Image Library.