Four days of maritime activity off the Western Australian coast has concluded with the end of Exercise DISTANT SHORES. The anti-submarine exercise in the deep waters south of Albany involved Australian, New Zealand and Japanese surface and air units which attempted to locate, identify and isolate submarine HMAS Rankin during graduated warfare serials.
HMA Ships Anzac and Arunta, HMNZS Te Kaha and JDS Kirisame were initially tasked with the role of protecting Sirius from a simulated submarine attack by Rankin as she departed from Albany.
Further tracking exercises took place over the preceding four days with the complexity building with the introduction of aircraft and ships conducting close-in anti-submarine warfare. The exercise culminated in the protection of Sirius from the submarine during the conduct of a replenishment at sea.
A feature of the exercise was the environmental conditions encountered and working with other international participants. The underwater trenches and channels in the Albany area have provided a challenging environment to conduct an anti-submarine exercise. Operating with international participants has been particularly beneficial as an exercise of this type improves interoperability and familiarisation with each other’s procedures.
Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, Commander Dave Tietzel reflected on the experiences gained by the Australian fleet units.
“The real benefits in an exercise such as the one we have just completed come in two areas," he said.
"Firstly the opportunity to exercise with our New Zealand and Japanese friends has been of immense value as we gain more knowledge of our respective capabilities and the ability to operate in a complex environment together.
"Secondly the exercise has been invaluable from a training perspective exposing many of the ship’s crew to the challenges of anti-submarine warfare with a real submarine in an environment that makes detection difficult.”
Exercise DISTANT SHORES was undertaken in concert with commemorative events in Albany at the end of October, which brought the nations together to mark 100 years since troopships sailed from the Western Australian port for the battlefields of the First World War.