At-sea portion of exercise Talisman Sabre kicks off

(L-R) USS John S. McCain conducts Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with HMA Ships Broome, Ballarat and Bathurst off the coast of the Northern Territory during Talisman Saber 17. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Australian Navy ships engaged their U.S. counterparts for four days high-end warfare exercises off the coast of Darwin, proving their ability to detect, track and engage surface, submarine, and air targets.

HMA Ships Ballarat, Melbourne, Broome and Bathurst trained with USS John S. McCain while the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan joined the exercise on July 8.

The warships conducted a wide range of training exercises including Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres, Replenishment at Sea Approaches and simulating the protection of major fleet units against a hostile force, against the smaller Navy vessels in the approaches to Darwin Harbour.

Advanced air warfare serials were supported by the Royal Australian Air Force’s Classic and Super Hornets and the US Marine Corps’ F/A-18s.

The four days in the Northern Territory began the maritime component of exercise Talisman Sabre 17, the largest combined military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force.

The ships will now move to the Queensland coast to take part in the main effort of Talisman Sabre.

The main part of the exercise will include 15 warships including the Amphibious Assault Ship HMAS Canberra, numerous aircraft and clearance diving teams, including an Expeditionary Warfare Strike Group.

This “battle portion” of the exercise, set to begin on Thursday, will include the largest beach landing Australian forces have been involved in since WWII, and will then continue with 10 days of field warfare training in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, north of Rockhampton.

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