By Lieutenant Ryan Zerbe
The Royal Australian Navy has begun its biggest deployment of the year, with more than a thousand sailors and officers bound for engagements across North- and South-East Asia.
Departing today from Sydney, the lead element of a nine-ship task group will participate in bilateral and multi-national activities over the next few months.
The deployment is focused on strengthening Australia’s regional defence engagement through practical cooperation activities with key partners.
It will include high-end warfare exercises, port visits, as well as cultural engagements that show Australia’s long-standing commitment to its partners and to regional security.
The Commander of the Task Group, Captain Andrew Quinn, said the deployment demonstrated Navy’s ability to send concurrent task groups across throughout the region.
“Practical training with regional partners not only up-skills our own officers and sailors but also builds our ability to work with other navies, underpinning stability in the region,” he said.
“We have been operating in task groups for some time, refining the concept towards being able to conduct sustained operations like this over next several years.”
It marks the first overseas deployment for the new Aegis Destroyer, HMAS Hobart, which will lead the first task group element to Japan for an international fleet review.
Hobart will be accompanied in Japan by Anzac frigates HMA Ships Parramatta and Stuart as well as a Navy submarine.
Stuart will later join the Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Ararat, the replenishment ship HMAS Sirius, and the hydrographic survey ship HMAS Leeuwin during their deployment to South-East Asia.
The Anzac frigate HMAS Arunta will then join Sirius in exercises with a range of regional partners, including Malaysia and Indonesia.
Navy mine hunters HMA Ships Gascoyne and Diamantina will participate in international exercises for the final element of the Task Group.
Captain Quinn said the units involved were ready having been thoroughly tested.
“HMAS Hobart has proven her readiness as the first of her class and she is an outstanding platform to function as a centrepiece for this maritime task group,” Captain Quinn said.
“Meanwhile smaller ships like Leeuwin, Diamantina and Gascoyne have deployed further from the Australian station than ever before over the past year and we know they are up to the task ahead.”
Ships in the task group will return home in December.