Navy’s Surface Force has capped off a massive year with most of its combatants deploying overseas.
Surface Force is responsible for Navy’s major warships - 14 frigates, destroyers, amphibious ships and support vessels - and oversees their readiness for sea and for combat.
Commander Surface Force, Commodore Stephen Hughes, said the number of overseas deployments and international exercises in the Fleet’s schedule this year has proven a high level of combat readiness.
“This year we deployed our new Hobart class Destroyers concurrently,” Commodore Hughes said.
“HMAS Hobart spent almost four months deployed in East Asia as the command platform for a Task Group of 11 ships and took part in multinational exercises.”
“Meanwhile HMAS Brisbane completed her first overseas deployment testing her Aegis combat system in the United States, including striking targets using remotely-supplied telemetry from an American warship for the first time.”
“This year has affirmed that these warships are the most capable and lethal at our disposal.”
Navy’s Anzac class frigates also demonstrated their capabilities overseas in the Middle East and across the Indo-Pacific region.
“HMAS Toowoomba sailed as far west as India for multinational French-led exercises while Ballarat spent nine-months deployed as part of Operation MANITOU in the Middle East Region, where she seized nearly 20 tonnes of illicit drugs worth an estimated value of AUD$1.41 billion,” Commodore Hughes said.
While Navy’s blue-water fighting force has been busy, the amphibious and support ships have also made valuable contributions to Australia’s interest abroad.
Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) HMAS Canberra spent most of this year deployed, sailing almost 22,000 nautical miles to Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia as part of INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 and Exercise TALISMAN SABRE with sister ship Adelaide.
Adelaide deployed to the Southwest Pacific, visiting regional partners and supporting Operation RENDER SAFE, a mission to dispose of Second World War explosives in the Solomon Islands.
In a testament to their hard work, the LHDs recently achieved Final Operational Capability under Joint Project 2048.
“The Final Operational Capability milestone is a credit to the officers and sailors of both LHDs and the wider amphibious organisation, who have worked hard to achieve this,” Commodore Hughes said.
“We know that when called upon, the LHDs can deliver large scale task group operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and they will remain the centrepieces of our littoral operations for years to come.”
Navy’s afloat support ships have consistently delivered this year. HMAS Success deployed right up to the end of her service life and HMAS Sirius deployed as the sole replenishment ship for our recent Task Group in East Asia.”
While 2019 has been a year of significant achievement, it has also seen a rejuvenation of the Fleet that will continue into 2020.
Success also decommissioned after 33 years of service as Navy’s ‘Battle Tanker’.
“While it is sad to farewell ships with such a long history, it is also exciting as we consider the new ships that will soon join in 2020, boosting our capability,” Commodore Hughes said.
“NUSHIP Sydney is the last of the Hobart class Destroyers and will commission early next year and our new replenishment ships, Supply and Stalwart, are well on their way to entering service in the near future.”
“All the while our Fleet is making preparations to deploy now with HMAS Toowoomba ready to sail to the Middle East Region in January and other ships making preparations to take part in exercises and engagement activities across the region.”