Rockingham-based frigates and submarines take part in maritime warfare exercises along coast

Warships gather at HMAS Stirling ready to take part in Exercise Ocean Explorer.
Warships gather at HMAS Stirling ready to take part in Exercise Ocean Explorer.

MORE than 17 warships and aircraft, including Rockingham-based frigates and submarines, are taking part in one of the largest maritime warfare exercises along the WA coast held by the Royal Australian Navy.

The inaugural Exercise Ocean Explorer includes international participants, adding the opportunity to practice war fighting with language, customs and technology differences.

The Spanish Armada’s ESPS Cristobal Colon, New Zealand’s HMNZ Ships Te Kaha and Endeavour and, for a brief period, Italian frigate ITS Caribiniere have been integrated into the Australian scenarios.

Exercise director Captain Jim Hutton said the activity aimed to train ships to work together in a series of complex and dynamic warfare scenarios.

“With the recent acquisition of larger ships, we are transitioning from a fleet optimised for single-ship operations to a new era of joint task group level expeditionary warfare,” he said.

“The 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.

“This can include the full spectrum of maritime security operations including diplomacy and international engagement, humanitarian, disaster relief, constabulary, peacekeeping operations and high end war fighting.”

The Royal Australian Air Force will also participate in scenarios and defence elements based on Australia’s east coast.

Units ashore in a number of locations will integrate into the exercise to add complexity and reality.

Military activities will be conducted at sea and in coastal areas north of Perth near Lancelin, Geraldton and as far south as Geographe Bay until March 10.

The exercise includes the first visit to WA by the amphibious ship, HMAS Adelaide.

Meanwhile, army Blackhawk helicopters will be conducting training exercises in the Rockingham area as part of a routine training during March.

“Flights will occur in all conditions across urban and rural areas during the afternoon and evening, generally concluding by 11.30pm,” a Department of Defence spokesman said.

“Some flight paths are necessarily lower than normal and some unavoidable noise may be noticeable for short periods.”

He said the training was designed to provide a realistic test of ADF skills, working together with State and Federal agencies in the form of emergency response scenarios.

Other areas to be affected by the flights will include Swanbourne, Joondalup and Collie.