Large-scale Exercise Kakadu kicks off

Exercise Kakadu, the largest maritime drill off its kind in the Australian Northern Territory, is beginning today. 

HMAS Sirius prepares for Exercise Kakadu with USS Michael Murphy. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Held biennially, Exercise Kakadu is a joint exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force.

More countries are attending this year than ever before, with 23 ships, 21 aircraft, a submarine and more than 3,000 personnel from 27 nations participating in a range of activities both ashore in Darwin and at sea.

“This premier international exercise will provide invaluable training opportunities for maritime security and surveillance for all involved,” Christopher Pyne MP, Australia’s Minister for Defence, commented.

“Participation by nations from the South West Pacific, South East Asia and from the wider Indo-Pacific further strengthens the bonds we enjoy with our close regional partners,” he added.

As part of the exercise, Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead will host his counterparts at a Fleet Commanders’ Conference in Darwin.

The high level regional security talks will focus on generating active and effective security and humanitarian partnerships, with all nations emerging more capable, united and focused on safeguarding our region.

Participating nations include Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Vietnam.

As Naval Today earlier reported, China will take part in Kakadu for the first time by sending one of its warships. Australia has invited China to join the drill in an effort to ease tensions between the two countries, intensified by China’s growing assertiveness in the South China and East China Seas and sporadic altercations at sea between the two sides.