The Royal Australian Navy has joined partner navies from Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States for three days of warfare exercises, involving 1500 personnel, eight ships, a submarine and aircraft.
Stuart’s Commanding Officer, Commander Luke Ryan, said the exercise was focused on improving the capabilities of the countries participating to respond as a naval force against crises and contingencies in the Indo-Pacific.
“The purpose of this exercise is for the participating navies to continue to refine their skills operating as an integrated force ready to respond to a changing and complex maritime environment in the region,” Commander Ryan said.
“Promoting greater levels of military cooperation among participating navies allows for increased coordination, understanding and communication when exercising and operating together.”
During Exercise PACIFIC VANGUARD, forces combined to practice a wide range of naval competencies, including combined manoeuvers, surface warfare, live-fire exercises, anti-submarine warfare, and replenishment at sea.
Japanese Ships Ashigara and Ise, and Republic of Korea Ships Chungmugong Yi Sunsin and Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong will take part.
USS Barry, USNS John Ericsson, a Los Angeles Class fast-attack submarine, and a P-8 Patrol Squadron (VP) from the United States will participate.
This is the third time the four nations have undertaken Exercise PACIFIC VANGUARD.
USS Barry’s Commanding Officer, Commander Christopher A Gahl, said PACIFIC VANGUARD demonstrated “the United States, along with allies and partners, is committed to preserving stability and freedom of access to the global commons.
“Participation in PACIFIC VANGUARD provides realistic, relevant training that fosters each nation’s abilities to plan, communicate and conduct complex maritime operations together, at sea,” Commander Gahl said.
Commodore, Maritime Task Squadron 71 of the Republic of Korea Navy, Captain Kim Sung Hwan, said he looked forward to seeing the enhancement of combined operational capabilities during PACIFIC VANGUARD.
“It will serve as an opportunity to strengthen joint response capabilities for various security situations by building up the friendship and coordination system between participating nations,” he said.
Commander-in-Chief, Self Defense Fleet, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Vice Admiral Yuasa Hideki said the exercise was “invaluable”.
“It is truly invaluable that the navies of four countries get together again in Guam to participate in PACIFIC VANGUARD 20 under the difficult time we all face during COVID-19,” he said.
“I strongly believe that our enhanced cooperation will certainly contribute to peace and stability in the Western Pacific as well as furthering our partnership.”
A five-ship task group departed Australia on Regional Presence Deployment 2020 in July to conduct maritime exercises with other nations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
HMAS Canberra recently returned to Australia while the four remaining ships participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii in August and are returning to Australia.
Commander of the Australian Task Group, Captain Phillipa Hay, said Exercise PACIFIC VANGUARD provides a significant opportunity to work with regional partners on complex warfighting skills.
“The exercise strengthens an already solid alliance between the Australian, Japanese, Republic of Korea and United States navies, increasing our ability to contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific,” Captain Hay said.
Regional Presence Deployment demonstrates Australia’s commitment to sustaining strong and positive defence relations with regional nations as well as the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.