HMAS Sirius and HMAS Arunta are heading home after wrapping up a challenging series of evolutions with the Indonesian Navy in the Java Sea.
Exercise NEW HORIZON has been held regularly since 1972. The four day event began in Surabaya with an official welcome for both ships' companies. The land based component provided the opportunity for each side to become better acquainted and also to plan the sea phase ahead.
Combined Task Group Commander, Commander Darren Grogan from HMAS Sirius said meeting face to face with the Indonesian commanders of participating ships was critical.
"When you sit down with another nation’s navy, the language barrier can initially be a challenge," Commander Grogan said.
"But then you both realise that navies across the region and indeed the world share the same concerns and general practices.
"Suddenly everyone understands each other and we can get on with planning a safe and successful activity."
Exercise NEW HORIZON is now recognised as the most important naval activity Australia conducts with the Indonesian Navy. Indonesian First Admiral Mintoro Yulianto told the opening ceremony that the countries shared a common interest.
"We consider our border area to require a common approach," First Admiral Mintoro said.
"This needs some efforts to maintain mutual understanding and Exercise NEW HORIZON is part of this effort."
After two days alongside, HMA Ships Sirius and Arunta returned to sea with Indonesian ships KRI Usman Harun and KRI Diponegoro. What followed were two days of evolutions including underway refueling, communication serials, anti submarine exercises and a live fire gunnery activity.
The Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, Commander Cameron Steil, said that all the exercises at sea counted significantly towards building interoperability, breaking communications barriers and learning from each other, apparently even when things go wrong.
"We had considerable difficulty in obtaining a clear range to ensure the safety of other mariners in the area and combined efforts such as this only serve to deepen the cooperation and understanding between our navies regardless of the final tactical outcome," Commander Steil said.
"I am very pleased to say we ended the week feeling that we have made new and genuine friends."
Commander Grogan agreed the exercise improved Australia’s relationship with our nearest neighbour.
"It was only a quick visit but our relationship is very strong," Commander Grogan said.
"We look forward to returning very soon."