Australia hosts navy commanders from 14 countries for Regional Commanders’ Conference

Navy commanders from 14 countries were hosted by Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, for the inaugural Regional Commanders’ Conference to discuss maritime security and interoperability in the Asia-Pacific.

The high level discussions between navies were attached to exercise Kakadu 16 and will become a permanent feature in future years.

The forum heard from leading strategists before discussing advances in unmanned systems, intentions for operations in shared sea lanes, and how navies collectively respond to piracy and smuggling activities across national boundaries.

Australian academic and Asia-Pacific expert, Professor Michael Wesley, opened the conference with a presentation on the shifting regional strategic order and contemporary regional issues.

Rear Admiral Mayer said while sharing ideas was an important part of the forum, the primary goal was to build trust between the 14 nations that attended.

“The presentations have been particularly interesting, but the true success of the day can be measured by the conversations generated around the table,” he said.

Commander of the United States 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, followed with a talk on emerging trends of unmanned military systems. Commander of the Philippines Fleet, Rear Admiral Bayani R Gaerlan, also addressed the gathering about his country’s response to the threat of piracy.

The ongoing exercise Kakadu is the Royal Australian Navy’s premier international engagement activity, developing interoperability between nations in the maritime and air domains, and providing training opportunities for maritime security and surveillance.