Australia, New Zealand complete Tasman Sea shipping protection drill

Royal Australian and New Zealand Naviy personnel took part in a week long exercise recently honing their skills in responding to piracy activities on commercial shipping surrounding fictitious countries in the Tasman Sea.

Exercise Goanna 18 drew on lessons learnt from RAN and RNZN deployments in domestic and international maritime military operations and exercise.

The exercise trained and tested members of both navies as they worked together with commercial shipping operators to avoid simulated pirate attacks and support the warfighting effort underpinning this exercise.

Exercise director, Commander David Neumann RANR, of the Royal Australian Navy’s Maritime Trade Operations Team One, said that island nations like Australia and New Zealand remain heavily reliant on commercial shipping. According to CMDR Neumann, as a result it is of vital importance that both navies interact and engage with merchant shipping and the commercial maritime industry to help protect maritime trade and maintain sea line of communication integrity.

“On any given day there are thousands of vessels across the world sailing to support Australian trade and economic security. For a maritime country like Australia, even a low level conflict could have severe effects on our way of life and that of our neighbours and partners.

“Our Maritime Trade Officers work with the commercial maritime industry, and supporting government agencies, to make sure that in the event of a conflict we can keep shipping and our economies moving,” he said.

“Over the last week we have had Australian and New Zealand personnel working in the ports of Newcastle, Brisbane and Botany, as well as Tauranga in New Zealand, on an activity that simulated disruptions to cross-Tasman shipping as a result of a small-scale regional conflict and associated piracy attacks.”

“Key parts of the activity included the rapid roll out of Shipping Control Teams to ports and the boarding and briefing of commercial ships.”

“Our seas are only going to get more crowded as populations and trade grows, so the task of making sure shipping can continue to operate and service that growth in a safe and efficient manner, during tension or conflict, remains a key focus for our respective navies. Supporting this naval task is what we trained for this week,” CMDR Neumann said.

Photo: Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy Maritime Trade Operation members conduct briefs during Goanna 2018. Photo: Royal Australian Navy