Australian Navy concludes major fleet exercise Ocean Explorer

HMAS Sirius and Stuart conduct Officer of the Watch manoeuvres at the conclusion of Ocean Explorer 2018. Photo: Royal Australia Navy

The Royal Australian Navy concluded exercise Ocean Explorer, its largest fleet training activity for 2018.

The exercise concluded on March 11 as ten ships and their embarked aircraft returned to Royal Australian Navy Base HMAS Creswell.

“Most importantly it has seen more than 2,000 men and women from three different navies come together and work together at sea,” task group commander, Captain Paul O’Grady said commenting the three-week activity.

The second iteration of Ocean Explorer featured a complex web of maritime warfare training, trials and exercises, including the Nulka anti-ship missile defense system upgrade trials and unit readiness workup training for HMAS Success and Farncomb and Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Te Mana.

For the first time, the exercise featured amphibious operations by HMAS Canberra in Bass Strait and off the north coast of Tasmania including the landing of the Amphibious Beach Element in the vicinity of Stony Head, near Launceston.

“We’ve tested competencies from the lower end such as unit level firefighting and man overboard recovery, through to high-end warfighting skills such as amphibious operations, hunting submarines and anti-ship missile defence,” Captain O’Grady said.

“We’ve also certified the task group command staff to plan, synchronise and execute operations at sea, bringing a task group of ten ships together to be an effective warfighting team.

“One of the highlights of Ocean Explorer has been the number of assets and platforms available.

“Multiple ships from three different navies have been able to exercise against a live submarine which provides invaluable training and a really great investment in our preparedness.”

Seaman Communications and Information Systems sailor Nikki Davies said effective communications had been crucial to the play of the exercise.

“We’ve been tested in communications with quite a few ships including from the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy,” she said.

Exercise Ocean Explorer included the participation of Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland during her visit to Australia, as well as HMAS Canberra and Sirius; frigates HMAS Melbourne, Newcastle, Anzac, Stuart, and Paramatta; minehunter HMAS Huon and submarines HMAS Waller and Farncomb.

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