With the magnificent backdrop of Mount Wellington and working in the deep cool waters off Hobart, personnel from Australia, Great Britain, the United States, New Zealand and Canada and observers from India and Sweden, began Exercise DUGONG 2015 on 5 October.
The two week exercise involves the Huon class Mine Hunter, HMAS Yarra, personnel from the Mine Warfare Team Evaluation and Ranging Element, Australian Clearance Diving Team Four, the Hobart-based Australian Naval Reserve Diving Team 10 in addition to the Defence Maritime Services vessel Seahorse Horizon.
Commander Max Muller, Commander Australian Mine Warfare Clearance Diving Task Group, is leading the Australian participation in the exercise.
“First conducted in 1988, this is the fifteenth iteration of Exercise DUGONG, which remains the Australian Defence Force’s premier international mine warfare and military diving activity,” he said.
The exercise provides a unique opportunity to work closely with Australia’s international partners to develop and deepen the Navy’s skills in waterspace management and mine countermeasures.
“Over the years, DUGONG has always sought to include participation from Australia’s closest allies and this year is no exception, with Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US all taking part, with India and Sweden also represented as observers.
“A clear focus for me and my team will be to ensure all participants have a professionally rewarding experience and use the opportunity to exchange information to help ensure each nation can benefit from each others’ strengths and specific areas of expertise.
“Exercise DUGONG is an opportunity to conduct shaping operations in advance of the Amphibious Readiness Element, with a particular emphasis on executing contemporary mine warfare and military diving techniques in some challenging environmental conditions.”
This is the second time Exercise DUGONG has been held in Tasmania, the last was conducted in Hobart in 2009.
“It is with great pride that we can again showcase this beautiful and historical city to our international colleagues, while also providing world class training areas and facilities to undertake mine warfare and diving training,” Commander Muller said.
“It provides the Australian Defence Force another opportunity to demonstrate to the people of Tasmania the prowess and professionalism of Australia’s military forces and that of our closest military partners.”
Exercise participants will work collaboratively in clearance diving salvage and survey operations.
Exercise DUGONG 2015 continues through to 16 October.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152765.