Anzacs meet up in South Korea

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Christopher McGregor (author), LCDR Andrew Thorpe (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Location(s): Busan, Republic of Korea

Topic(s): HMAS Arunta (F151), HMAS Stuart (F153), North East Asia Deployment, Exercise HAEDOLI WALLABY

HMAS Arunta enters the port city of Busan, Republic of Korea, as part of the ship's North East Asian Deployment. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
HMAS Arunta enters the port city of Busan, Republic of Korea, as part of the ship's North East Asian Deployment.

East met west recently as HMA Ships Stuart and Arunta, usually based on either side of Australia, were both in Busan, South Korea.

Since departing Fleet Base West in late August, Arunta has had a busy program exercising and conducting visits to India, Malaysia, Philippines and Japan. Stuart’s crew had similarly travelled from Yokosuka, Japan having participated in the Japanese International Fleet Review. The two ships will now team up to form an Australian Task Group and conduct the rest of their North East Asian deployment in company, with replenishment ship HMAS Sirius to join up in several weeks time as well.

Commanding Officer Arunta, Commander Cameron Steil said prior to Stuart’s arrival, Arunta’s crew were fortunate enough to participate in the 70th year anniversary celebration for the Republic of Korea Navy. 

“As part of these festivities members of Arunta were invited to attend the opening ceremony gala concert on the Wednesday evening, which consisted of traditional and contemporary music supported by a large combined Republic of Korea Defence Force and US Navy 7th Fleet orchestra,” he said.  

Highlights were female pop group, Dal Shabet, and a renowned opera singer who bought the 2000 guests to the feet with their high intensity performances.

“It was a pleasure to represent Australia at this significant occasion,” Commander Steil said.

The Fleet Review continued and members of Arunta witnessed harbour activities from the deck of ROKS Dokdo, a Korean-made Landing Platform Helicopter similar to Australia’s Canberra class. The Review showcased the latest assets of the Republic of Korea Navy fleet, and culminated in a simulated attack on a submarine from maritime aircraft which included the launching of missiles and torpedos.

A joint official reception was held onboard Arunta on the Friday night, to thank the Republic of Korea Navy for hosting the ships and marking the official start of Exercise HAEDOLI WALLABY. The Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Bill Paterson, and the Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer hosted the evening.

“Arunta’s catering staff put on a fine show, with the kangaroo and crocodile in particular impressing our Korean guests,” Commander Steil said.

The Australian ships took on their hosts in friendly matches of soccer and rugby, conducted an official visit to the UN Memorial Cemetery, performed charity work at a local retirement village and further official engagements.

Commanding Officer Stuart, Commander Aaron Nye said that his crew was looking forward to the exercise. 

“Exercise HAEDOLI WALLABY is a bilateral exercise with Republic of Korea Navy vessels and aircraft that will exercise anti-submarine warfare drills and general seamanship evolutions between our two navies,” he said.

“Meeting our sister ship, Arunta, after almost 12 months of conducting separate activities, has been an excellent opportunity to further develop our Task Group skills.”

Stuart and Arunta are both Anzac class frigates capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. They are currently undertaking a North East Asia deployment to Japan, South Korea and China.