HMS Sutherland to join major Australian Navy fleet exercise Ocean Explorer

A fleet of Royal Australian Navy ships departed Fleet Base East in Garden Island, Sydney, on Tuesday to start exercise Ocean Explorer.

Ocean Explorer will see two submarines, ten ships and embarked aircraft take part in war games off the east coast of Australia.

They will be joined briefly by Royal Navy frigate HMS Sutherland which is visiting Australia on her Asia Pacific deployment.

This is the second iteration of the exercise which will once again feature a complex web of maritime warfare training, trials and exercises.

Exercise director, Captain Jim Hutton said this year’s Ocean Explorer was about building on the success of last year.

“Last year’s Ocean Explorer saw the certification of a Sea Control Task Group for the Australian Defence Force – a first in recent times,” he said.

“In short succession, we deployed maritime task groups in complex multinational exercises such as Talisman Sabre and used them to excellent effect in the inaugural Joint Maritime Task Group deployment Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017.

“This year’s Ocean Explorer is about continuing that exponential growth and ensuring we can hone our maritime warfare skills to meet any contingency.”

Ocean Explorer 2018 will be carried out over a three week period off the east coast of Australia; Jervis Bay, Maitland Bay and adjacent sea and air spaces.

The exercise will feature anti-air and anti-submarine warfare; maritime strike and interdiction, maritime advance force operations and command and control.

It will also incorporate unit readiness workup training for HMA Ships Success and Farncomb and Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Te Mana and culminate in amphibious operations by HMAS Canberra in the Bass Strait.

“The main aim of the exercise is to develop our task group capability, to operate a number of ships under one commander and focus primarily on sea control operations,” Captain Hutton said.

“This can include the full spectrum of maritime security operations; from diplomacy and international engagement at one end, through to humanitarian and disaster relief, constabulary and peacekeeping operations, and at the upper end of the spectrum, warfighting.”