Canberra departs for world's largest maritime warfare exercise

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author), CPL David Cotton (photographer)

Location(s): Pearl Harbor, USA

HMAS Canberra at anchor off the coast of North Queensland during Exercise Sea Raider.  (photo: CPL David Cotton)
HMAS Canberra at anchor off the coast of North Queensland during Exercise Sea Raider.

HMAS Canberra set sail for Hawaii last month to participate in the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

The amphibious ship embarked 500 troops and vehicles from 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, in Townsville before departing on the three-month deployment.

Batallion Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bassingthwaighte, said his soldiers would work with troops from New Zealand, the United States and Tonga as part of a battalion-sized landing team.

“It’s really about getting that common understanding of proceedings and working effectively together,” he said.

“We will be involved in the full range of amphibious activities, from pre-landing activities to air mobiles, surface assaults and tactical actions ashore.

“It’s a great hit out for the embarked force and a great opportunity to work with other nations to achieve those effects.”

Twenty-seven nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in this year’s exercise. 

RIMPAC provides participants with an opportunity to foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the security of sea lanes.

Participating forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities, including disaster relief, maritime security operations, sea control and complex warfighting.

RIMPAC continued a busy year for Canberra.

Last month, the Landing Helicopter Dock took part in the Royal Australian Navy’s first task group certification with HMA Ships Ballarat and Success, and HMNZS Te Kaha.

This was just after Canberra returned from delivering support in Fiji after a cyclone devastated the nation. 

The ship delivered 500 tonnes of humanitarian aid and disaster relief stores, and 30,000 litres of drinking water, while Australian and Fijian military engineers rebuilt eight schools and two medical centres.

RIMPAC will finish on 4 August when Canberra will return to Australia to take part in Exercise SEA RAIDER off the North Queensland coast. 

The exercise tests the ability of Australia’s Amphibious Force to respond quickly to a wide range of crises.