Australians, Japanese and Americans Work Trilateral Passage Through Philippine Sea


By Lieutenant Tanalee Smith

Australia, Japan and the United States conducted a trilateral passage in the Philippine Sea en route to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) in Hawaii.

The Australian Defence Force Joint Task Group was joined in the Philippine Sea this week by the USS Ronald ReaganCarrier Strike Group, which includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin, and Japan’s Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki.

The deployment demonstrates Australia’s enduring commitment to enhancing security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increasing the capability and interoperability of the ADF.

The three days of activities included replenishments at sea, aviation operations, maritime manoeuvres and communications drills.

Commander of the Australian Joint Task Group, Commodore Michael Harris, said the opportunity to work alongside Japan and the United States was invaluable.

“The combined activities between our navies demonstrates a high degree of interoperability and capability between Australia, Japan and the United States,” Commodore Harris said.

Officers and sailors on the upper decks of Canberra admired the maritime and aerial display as the ships separated.

“We’re very lucky to be out here, working as a united task group,” said Petty Officer physical training instructor Shane Murphy.

“I’m proud to be part of it.”

Captain Caldwell, Commanding Officer USS Antietam, said the passage demonstrated shared commitment to regional stability.

“The relationships we’ve developed enable us to meet at sea and immediately operate at an advanced level. This highlights the enduring nature of our alliances with Japan and Australia,” Captain Caldwell said.

Captain Sakano Yusuke, Commander of Japan’s Escort Division 4, said strengthening cooperation with the US Navy and Royal Australian Navy was vitally important for Japan and contributed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“The experience in this exercise will give us tactical and operational advantages and make our friendships stronger, in addition to our regular joint exercises with both like-minded navies,” Captain Sakano said.

HMA Ships CanberraHobartStuartArunta and Sirius left Darwin on July 5 to begin a regional deployment to South-East Asia and Hawaii.

This article was first published by the Department of Defence on July 24, 2020.

The featured photo: Ships from the RAN, US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sail in company through the Philippine Sea as aircraft from US Carrier Airwing 5 fly above. Photo: Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez