USS John S. McCain participates in FTX-N

Photo: US Navy

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) participated with four Royal Australian Navy ships, the Royal Australian Air Force, and United States Marine Corps during Field Training Exercise North (FTX-N).

FTX-N is a precursor to Talisman Saber 17 (TS 17) while on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Talisman Saber is the largest Australia-U.S. bilateral exercise. It provides a realistic and challenging training environment to practice readiness and interoperability between the two nations, while enhancing security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

FTX-N consisted of several exercises with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) including: Division Tactics (DIVTACS), Air Defense Exercises (ADEX), and a Force Protection Exercise (FPEX) with the Royal Australian Navy frigates HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) and HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05).

FPEX consisted of McCain defending against a simulated attack from small surface crafts providing an opportunity for U.S. and RAN forces to conduct operations in a combined, joint and interagency environment.

During the FPEX, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Aaron Aston had the opportunity to be part of the exercise as a gunner stationed at one of the .50 caliber machine gun stations.

After FPEX, McCain pulled into Darwin, Australia, and hosted local Australian media for a briefing by Capt. Bryan Parker, Exercise Director of FTX-N and Col. Kevin Norton, Commanding Officer of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 4.

“Exercise Talisman Saber is a major combined exercise, the largest of its type,” said Parker. “It’s an Australian-U.S. exercise that hones our skills in high-end medium intensity warfighting. It provides an excellent platform for us to be able to improve our collective readiness, our combat capability, and interoperability.”

Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, McCain’s commanding officer, also hosted the Northern Territories Administrator, Chief Minister, the Mayor of Darwin, and other local government officials and military officers for a ship tour and expressed gratitude in working with the Royal Australian Navy.

“The Australian-U.S. military alliance has been a model of close cooperation and trust,” said Sanchez. “Australian-U.S. forces are a capable ready maritime force standing by to preserve peace and prevent conflicts in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

While in port, Sailors participated in several community relation (COMREL) events, assisting with tours as guides at the Aviation Heritage Center and feeding and moving crocodiles at the Crocodylus Park. Sailors also attended tours through the Wetlands and the Marrakai Plains offered by Moral Welfare and Recreation (MWR).

McCain, assigned to destroyer squadron (DESRON) 15, is on patrol in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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