OCEAN EXPLORER Task Group forms up in Geographe Bay

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Des Paroz (author), LSIS Christopher Szumlanski (photographer), ABIS Kieren Whiteley (photographer), LSIS Ronnie Baltoft (photographer)

Location(s): Geographe Bay, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS Newcastle (F06), HMAS Stuart (F153), HMAS Parramatta (F154), Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER, HMAS Success (OR 304)

HMA Ships Canberra (top) and Stuart sit at anchor in Geographe Bay, Western Australia during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2019. (photo: ABIS Kieren Whiteley)
HMA Ships Canberra (top) and Stuart sit at anchor in Geographe Bay, Western Australia during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2019.

Residents of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay were greeted with an impressive sight as a task group of five ships taking part in Navy’s Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2019 formed up in the bay to conduct briefings and preparations for the next phase of the exercise.

Gracing the waters off Busselton was Navy’s flagship, HMAS Canberra, along with ‘battle tanker’ HMAS Success and frigates HMA Ships Newcastle, Parramatta and Stuart, as well  as landing craft, seaboats and helicopters from the fleet of warships.

The Mayor of Busselton, Councillor Grant Henley, was delighted to see the task group take a prominent position in Geographe Bay.

“As a former full time member of the Navy, I was proud to see the five warships at anchor in the Bay and I felt a personal connection to the hundreds of women and men serving in the fleet,” Councillor Henley said.

“Geographe Bay has regular visits from Navy, but generally these visits are limited to single ships at a time, so to see five ships, including Canberra, was a highlight.”

Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER is focused on continued enhancement of the Royal Australian Navy’s task group sea control operations and on proving the ability of the newly formed Australian Maritime Task Group to conduct sea combat command in preparation for upcoming international deployments.

Director of Navy’s Force Generation Division, Captain Pete Bartlett, noted that the response by the Busselton community was indicative of the power of a maritime task group.

“One of the most powerful aspects of a navy is the response that can be generated by the presence and posture of a task group, and the positive sentiment in Busselton demonstrated the goodwill that can be achieved,” Captain Bartlett said.

“The main focus during OCEAN EXPLORER has been to hone the task group’s anti-submarine and surface warfare capabilities, as well as anti-ship missile defence.

“While kinetic effects are effective in discombobulating an adversary, the positive effects of engagement should never be under-estimated,” he said.

Following the conclusion of OCEAN EXPLORER, four of the ships in the task group will proceed on an international deployment.

For two of the ships, Success and Newcastle, the visit marks their final time in Western Australian waters before decommissioning later in 2019.