Sea phase of Australian Kakadu exercise gets underway

Naval units taking part in the Australian-hosted multinational maritime exercise have sailed out of Darwin to begin the sea phase of Exercise Kakadu.

The ships separated into three multi-national task groups once outside the harbor and will spend the next eight days undertaking a graduated program of activities leading to high-end warfare exercises off the northern Australian coast.

Commanding Officer of Australian frigate, HMAS Newcastle, Commander Mark Sirois, is in charge of one of the task groups and said the sea phase honed each nation’s ability to work together in an unpredictable warfare environment.

“Putting to sea and exercising together allows each navy to become familiar with each others’ procedures, cultures and capabilities, leading to greater trust and interoperability,” he said.

Ships will be tested on all facets of maritime warfare during the sea phase and have to deal with threats from the air, on the surface and from underwater.

These tests include live fire exercises, submarine detection and deterrence, and aircraft operations.

During the last three days of the sea phase, the task groups will take part in a ‘free play’ scenario that involves a fictitious battle over disputed maritime territory.

Commander Sirois said Newcastle was enthusiastic for the challenge.

We have many of the best young officers and sailors in the Royal Australian Navy. They proved during our unit readiness work up and evaluation that they are a highly dedicated and capable team. I have the utmost confidence in them,” he said.

Newcastle began her sea phase with a heavy jackstay replenishment at sea with HMAS Success and moved into an over the horizon targeting exercise.

Following Exercise Kakadu, the guided missile frigate continues her busy schedule, conducting Exercise Singaroo on transit to Townsville, Exercise Sea Raider in October and deploys to the Middle East region next year.

More than 3,000 personnel, 18 warships, 19 aircraft from 19 nations are participating in Kakadu this year, one of the largest iterations of the exercise.