SEA LION roars in far north Queensland

Published on ABIS Chantell Bianchi (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Choules (L100)

Troops from 2RAR onboard LCM8 return to HMAS Choules after conducting training exercises as part of Exercise SEA LION. (photo: ABIS Chantell Bianchi )
Troops from 2RAR onboard LCM8 return to HMAS Choules after conducting training exercises as part of Exercise SEA LION.

Exercise SEA LION 2013 got underway on June 10 as HMAS Choules slipped out to sea with a complement of more than 400 Army and Navy personnel onboard, and various pieces of equipment firmly secured on the vehicle deck.

EX SEA LION 13, which is the first major joint amphibious exercise for the year, is being conducted between Townsville and the Cowley Beach Training Area, and is part of the ADF’s enhanced amphibious capability development.

Commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Group Captain Ray Leggatt said the experience gained by personnel in Exercise SEA LION would prove invaluable in developing the skills necessary for the complex and demanding amphibious environment.

“This exercise will hone our amphibious procedures and systems as we head towards a comprehensive expeditionary capability which will be based around the 27,000 ton LHDs,” he said.

“To achieve this, it is important that Navy and Army can work well together to achieve any task that is given to an amphibious force; and this is where Exercise SEA LION 2013 comes in.”

Leading Seaman Aircrew Roberto Waglers heads out to an MRH90 helicopter onboard HMAS Choules during Exercise SEA LION 2013.

Leading Seaman Aircrew Roberto Waglers heads out to an MRH90 helicopter onboard HMAS Choules during Exercise SEA LION 2013.

The exercise also gave members of Navy’s 808 Squadron the chance to hone their skills behind the controls of the new MRH90 helicopter.

The MRH90 is a multi use aircraft that replaced Navy’s Sea King helicopters, and is set to take the place of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters.

Navy pilot LCDR Steve Brown said Navy will mainly use the MRH90 to conduct maritime support for ships, including boarding party support, medical evacuations and search and rescue operations.

“The MRH90 is a very versatile aircraft that allows the crew to carry out a number of tasks that may be assigned to them,” he said.

“This exercise gives members of 808 Squadron the chance to conduct individual and collective training with the MRH90 in a realistic environment.”

The dual service use of the MRH90 is another indication of how Navy and Army can work together in an amphibious environment.

Exercise SEA LION 2013, which forms Block Two of a three-block amphibious serial, runs until June 28 2013, and is followed by Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2013.

As well as HMAS Choules, HMA Ships Tarakan and Labuan are also participating in Exercise SEA LION 13.