By Lieutenant Commander Kelli Lunt
An Australian command task group element was based in a Japanese ship for the first time during a mine counter-measures exercise in Japan.
Minehunters HMA Ships Diamantina and Gascoyne, together with a commander task group, participated in Exercise Hyuga Nada, a mine counter-measures exercise, off the coast of Miyazaki, Japan, from November 18-24.
About 1000 people and 17 ships from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the United States Navy took part in the exercise.
RAN’s Commander Task Group, Commander Brett Dawe, said providing a command task group element based in a Japanese ship was a first.
“Being embarked in JS Uraga is a first for the RAN, but even more significant is the JMSDF willingness to design the exercise, enabling us to command and coordinate as co-leads,” Commander Dawe said.
“This really shows a deep level of trust, familiarity and friendship.
“Exercise Hyuga Nada gave our minehunters the chance to refine methods of working with our regional partners and an opportunity to develop ways of commanding and controlling with and from a Japanese ship.
“This really shows a deep level of trust, familiarity and friendship.”
“With the personnel from two commander task group mine warfare staffs working so closely together, this will absolutely enhance our interoperability.”
The exercise included mine clearance hunting, clearance diving and a “raft” replenishment at sea with JS Uraga.
Commanding Officer Diamantina and Commander Task Unit, Lieutenant Commander Darren McDevitt, said the exercise would improve procedures when working with regional partners.
“This is a great opportunity to build on not only our relationship with the JMSDF, but also to find ways to better conduct operations, including standard procedures such as communicating and seamanship manoeuvres,” Lieutenant Commander McDevitt said.
“There were challenges, such as an unfamiliar exercise area, but this exercise gave the RAN an opportunity to showcase our mine counter-measure capability and competence to a navy that excels in this area.”
Commanding Officer Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Sean Aitken, said taking part in Exercise Hyuga Nada with Japanese mine warfare counterparts was a highlight of the East-Asia deployment.
This is the second year Gascoyne has participated in Exercise Hyuga Nada and the crew revelled in the chance to conduct their core mine counter-measures role.
“I have a lot of respect for the JMSDF mine counter-measures forces and was excited to be able to work alongside them in this exercise to help strengthen our interoperability and bonds of friendship,” Lieutenant Commander Aitken said.
Diamantina and Gascoyne have been deployed on the Maritime East-Asia Deployment since September.
This article was published on the Australian Department of Defence website on 26 November 2019.
The featured photo shows Commander Brett Dawe, left, being welcomed onboard Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship, JS Uraga, by Captain Masahiko Koseki as part of Exercise Hyuga Nada.
Photo: Lieutenant Commander Kelli Lunt