A joint task force of the Royal Australian Navy and US Navy recently commenced a series of freedom of navigation and routine maritime security patrols in the South China Sea.
The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFG 154) began sailing with Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) then rendezvoused with amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and Arleigh-Burke Class guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) on 18 April.
Their combined operations started with force integration training and manoeuvring exercises between Parramatta and Bunker Hill.
Captain Kurt Sellerberg, Commanding Officer of the USS Bunker Hill, welcomed the opportunity to operate with the Royal Australian Navy again, saying, “It is great to be operating with the Australians again. Every time I have deployed to this region, and to the Middle East, I have had the good fortune to operate with the Royal Australian Navy.”
Operations with USS America started with a precision manoeuvres that included Barry in the South China Sea.
Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, Commander of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, said, “We look forward to every opportunity we get to work with our stalwart Australian allies at sea.
“To bring this much combat capability together here in the South China Sea truly signals to our allies and partners in the region that we are deeply committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Operations with Parramatta have included integrated live fire exercises, co-ordinated helicopter operations, small boat force protection drills, command and control integration, and manoeuvring interoperability.
The US and Australia share a long history of integrated military exercises. Over 3,000 US Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to observe or participate in the combined exercise.
CAPT Sellerberg added, “The Aussies are true professionals in every sense of the word, and our current combined deployment exemplifies a shared commitment to our historically strong and enduring relationship.”
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US 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of US national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.
As the US Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.