The uncharacteristic hot and hazy conditions in the South China Sea set the back drop for a planning for a passage exercise between Australia and Singapore. HMAS Sirius welcomed Operations Officers from Singaporean ships RSS Supreme and RSS Valiant and Australian frigate, HMAS Arunta, to develop a plan for interactions between the four ships.
Despite poor visibility brought about by ongoing bushfires in Indonesia, sea conditions were ideal for a boat transfer and Sirius’s rigid hull inflatable boat was despatched in calm waters to collect their foreign guests. Adding to the mixture of different nationalities at the meeting was Arunta’s Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Morris, of the Royal Navy, currently serving with the Royal Australian Navy as part of a military exchange program between Australia and the United Kingdom.
After being formally welcomed on board, Singaporean Lieutenant Colonel Jianwen, Captain Pua and Captain Ng sat down with their Australian counterparts in the Sirius Wardroom to develop a plan which would make the most of the limited visibility available whilst achieving the aims of the exercise. The team combined to produce a program that included a simulated over the horizon engagement, replenishment at sea approaches, small arms firing and an overnight cross deck for two subject matter experts between Supreme and Arunta.
Sirius’ Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Peter Dargan, said the opportunity to engage with the Singaporeans was not to be missed.
“I have worked with the Singaporeans on a number of occasions and continue to be impressed by their professionalism and enthusiasm,” he said.
“These attributes made chairing the Passage Exercise meeting a pleasure.”
Whilst the poor conditions of visibility meant a number of the planned serials had to be reduced in scope or cancelled, a program that supported exercise aims was salvaged. After the traditional exchange of ships' coins the Operations Officers were returned by boat to their respective units to commence the shared program focused on simulated warfare and task group interoperability.
Commanding Officer Sirius Commander Darren Grogan said the benefits of interactions between regional navies were many.
“Despite the visibility holding us back, it was nevertheless a pleasure doing business with such a well drilled and professional Navy,” he said.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with the Singapore Navy again - preferably over a longer period.”
On completion, Sirius in company with Arunta shaped course for the Philippines to undertake the next phase of their South East Asia Deployment and interactions with the Philippine Navy.