Anzac performs royally in UK

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Location(s): Portsmouth, United Kingdom

HMS St Albans waits in Plymouth harbour as HMAS Anzac prepares to conduct a task group minefield and force protection transit during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) training off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom. (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
HMS St Albans waits in Plymouth harbour as HMAS Anzac prepares to conduct a task group minefield and force protection transit during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) training off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom.

After a short mid-deployment break at the historic naval port of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, HMAS Anzac recently put to sea to participate in training with the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training team. 

The Australian Navy’s Sea Training Group mirrors their Royal navy counterparts' approach to working up, fine-tuning and assessing a warship’s capabilities across a broad spectrum of tasks a ship might be expected to carry out at sea. 

One of the major differences between the two is that of scale – the Royal Navy team can simultaneously work with six or more warships, and can draw upon a wider range of military assets to test a warship’s skills in surface, underwater and air defence scenarios. 

Lieutenant Commander Adam Pearce, an Australian Navy officer posted to the Royal Navy team as a Staff Warfare Officer - Navigation, welcomed the opportunity to work with an Australian warship. 

“We regularly see ships from around Europe here to enhance their capabilities, and of course are constantly working with ships from the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, but it has been six years since a Royal Australian Navy ship has participated. 

Able Seaman Boatswain Mate Benjamin Hill fires blank rounds from a 12.7mm machine gun on HMAS Anzac, as the ship conducts a minefield and force protection transit from Plymouth harbour, during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) training off the coast of the United Kingdom.

Able Seaman Boatswain Mate Benjamin Hill fires blank rounds from a 12.7mm machine gun on HMAS Anzac, as the ship conducts a minefield and force protection transit from Plymouth harbour, during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) training off the coast of the United Kingdom.

Anzac joins us with a crew that is well oiled, having completed their own workups before leaving Australia, and having worked together as a tight knit team since. 

“It is good to see that all their preparations are paying off, and that they have been very receptive to training during this warfare exposure,” Lieutenant Commander Pearce said.

The three day ‘warfare exposure’ provided to Anzac was primarily focused on the ship’s operations room, bridge and gunnery teams, and involved dealing with a full range of threats from above and below the ocean’s surface. 

Leading Seaman Electronic Warfare Melissa Girling, part of the operations room team, appreciated the opportunity to learn from dealing with the challenges provided. 

“During our ‘Thursday War’ day we worked in company with ships from Britain, Portugal and Turkey, and faced threats from mines, small craft, surface units, submarines and fast jets. 

HMAS Anzac conducts a five inch gun firing off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom, during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) shake-down.

HMAS Anzac conducts a five inch gun firing off the coast of Plymouth, United Kingdom, during Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) shake-down.

“There were a lot of moving parts, and we had to continuously pay attention, focusing on the big picture and the small details at the same time. 

“It was challenging, but very professionally conducted, and it was good to work as part of a multinational task group,” Leading Seaman Girling said. 

Anzac’s Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Commander Dylan Phillips, also stressed the benefits of working in a task group. 

“Australian Navy ships have for a couple of decades operated mostly as independent units, but with the introduction of the Canberra class amphibious assault ships and the forthcoming Hobart class destroyers we are moving towards task group operations as our default model. 

“Our workups back in Australia at the start of this year were some of the first to reintroduce this concept, so the chance to work with the Royal Navy, and indeed throughout our NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment, in company with ships of other navies reinforces this approach,” Lieutenant Commander Phillips said. 

Anzac’s continuing NORTHERN TRIDENT deployment is focused on commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, building interoperability with allies and strengthening Australian links to international communities.