Australian submarine hunted by five powers

Published on CAPT Bradley Richardson (author)

Location(s): Malay Peninsula

Topic(s): HMAS Sheean (S77), Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD

Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014 ships in formation, led by HMAS Sheean.  (photo: KD Jebat)
Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2014 ships in formation, led by HMAS Sheean.

Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Sheean has been hunted from the air and sea as part of Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD off the Malay Peninsula.

Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD is designed to enhance the interoperability of Five Power Defence Arrangement member nations. Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements have joined with forces from Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom for the exercise, which started on 22 May to and concluded yesterday. 

Commanding Officer of Sheean, Commander Richard Smallwood, said the submarine provided a number of air and sea training opportunities for the contributing nations.  

“We work closely to test not only our own abilities to avoid detection but to help air and sea assets search,” he said.

“The water we operate in here is very shallow and this presents a unique challenge in terms of anti‑submarine warfare.”

Monday 26 May also marked the 100 year anniversary of Australian submarines. Thanks to the exercise, Sheean was the first submarine to sail on the first day of the second century of Australian submarine service.

Throughout the exercise the submarine was hunted by two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orions from No. 92 Wing, based at Edinburgh, in South Australia.

In addition to Sheean, the Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Sydney also participated in the exercise.

Commanding Officer of Sydney, Commander Karl Brinckmann, said Bersama Shield provided all involved with invaluable training.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for the crews, not only to conduct the exercise at sea but to participate in the harbour phase that includes joint planning, training activities and a sports event,” Commander Brinckmann said.

“Bersama Shield enables all participants to develop close working relationships.”

Commander Australian Contingent, Commander Michael Jacobson, agreed that Bersama Shield was an excellent opportunity for the five nations to enhance their interoperability in various facets of air and maritime warfare.

“The role of the Royal Australian Navy, especially HMA Ships Sheean and Sydney, in the exercise is very important,” Commander Jacobson said.

Across the five nations, 53 aircraft participated in the air effort, which was supported by five naval vessels and thousands of personnel working in areas such as operations, planning, logistics and maintenance. 

As part of the Five Power Defence Arrangement, the Royal Australian Navy also participates in Exercise BERSAMA LIMA, which will take place in the vicinity of the Malay Peninsula again later in the year.