Adelaide excels in tri-service exercise

This article has photo gallery Published on FLTLT Lauretta Webster (author), CPL Kyle Genner (photographer)

Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Brook directs an MRH-90 helicopter during take off from HMAS Adelaide, off the north Queensland coast, during Exercise Sea Explorer 2016 on 27 May 2016.  (photo: CPL Kyle Genner)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Brook directs an MRH-90 helicopter during take off from HMAS Adelaide, off the north Queensland coast, during Exercise Sea Explorer 2016 on 27 May 2016.

HMAS Adelaide has completed Exercise SEA EXPLORER off the North Queensland coast, continuing her integration into the Amphibious Ready Element.

Adelaide embarked an additional 800 personnel at the beginning of the exercise, including Townsville-based 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment and Royal Australian Air Force elements.

The ship conducted a range of training exercises to test her ability to support the embarked elements. 

Commander of the Amphibious Task Group, Captain Brett Sonter, said Adelaide had undertaken a number of concurrent activities as part of SEA EXPLORER.

“As part of the exercise, the ship is being assessed against operational capability requirements,” Captain Sonter said. 

The ship coordinated and managed a myriad of training activities that supported the overarching objective of meeting operational capability. 

The Amphibious Beach Team from Army’s 10 Force Support Battalion disembarked Adelaide via amphibious vehicles, descending onto Cowley Beach to prepare it for the impending wave of personnel and equipment.  

Team Commander, Army Lieutenant Monica Merlo, said her team were the link between the ship and shore.

“We are responsible for coordinating the movement of all stores and vehicles from Adelaide to the beach, and then onto the next objective,” Lieutenant Merlo said.  

“We do this by using two different types of small boats, as well as the LARCs, an amphibious vehicle, to transfer cargo to the shore.

“After we have set up, we expect around 500 military personnel and 37 vehicles across Cowley beach to conduct their training.” 
Soldiers conducted landing drills after the team had set up for their arrival. 

Platoon Commander 21, Lieutenant David Bannister-Tyrrell, said they had rehearsed surface assaults from Adelaide onto Cowley beach using a number of different platforms, including landing craft and inflatable boats. 

“On approach to the beach, we take up security positions around the inside of the vessel and then tactically advance onto the beach where we once again adopt security positions,” Lieutenant Bannister-Terrell said

Air Force personnel on Adelaide provided air traffic control to the embarked MRH-90 helicopters, which transported Ground Combat Element personnel from the ship to the beach. 

Soldiers from 2nd Cavalry Regiment practised driving light armoured vehicles from Adelaide’s landing craft onto Cowley beach, and then reversing back on. 

Choppy waters provided challenges but the regiment adapted, according to Troop Leader Lieutenant Gerard Donnelly. 
“The weather meant we had to push to a different landing site, but eventually, we managed and pushed the assets to the shore,” Lieutenant Donnelly said. 

The final exercise in SEA EXPLORER was for Adelaide and her embarked forces to perform a non-combatant evacuation. 
One hundred and sixty role players descended on Cowley beach for Exercise COWLEY ASSIST in preparation for their rescue from a simulated disaster. 

The key exercise assessed if Adelaide had the processes and procedures in place to assist a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led evacuation, Captain Sonter said.

“Everything I observed demonstrated to me Adelaide understood what was required for that particular aspect of the evacuation operation,” Captain Sonter said. 

“It has been very successful. We have exposed the ship to the inherent challenges of broader amphibious operations and the enthusiasm and skill set of the ship’s company has shown me they are up to the challenge.”

The Sea Series of exercises will culminate with Exercise Sea Raider later in 2016. 

Sea Raider will evaluate if Adelaide and her sister ship, HMAS Canberra, are prepared as an integral part of Australia’s amphibious capability.