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Royal Australian Navy conducts South China Sea operations with US and Japanese navies

Royal Australian Navy has conducted trilateral operations with the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the South China Sea.

Royal Australian Navy has conducted trilateral operations with the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the South China Sea.

Allied maritime forces were accompanied by US 7th Fleet forward-deployed vessels including Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113) and Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords during the operations on 7 and 8 February.

“Australia has maintained a robust program of international engagement with regional nations for decades and cooperative activities at sea during routine deployments are crucial for enhancing mutual understanding and our ability to operate together,” according to Australia’s Joint Force Maritime Component Commander, Commodore Jonathan Ley, RAN.


Allied navies regularly participate and partner in high-end maritime exercises and operations to create combined operations that enhance interoperability, boost deterrence, and demonstrate shared resolve for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“This multinational sail fortifies our relationship between the US, Japan and Australian allies,” said Commander Earvin Taylor, commanding officer of John Finn.

“We promote transparency, rule of law, freedom of navigation and all principles that underscore security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.”

In addition, on 7 February, Defence deployed a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of Operation Argos to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

Defence announced they will conduct air surveillance of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods to support the international community’s goal of the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.

Operating from Kadena Air Base in Japan, the P-8A Poseidon aircraft will conduct airborne surveillance to monitor and deter illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum going to North Korea.

Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, CSC, RAN, said Operation Argos reinforced Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and directly contributed to maintaining rules-based global order in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Australia remains deeply committed to enforcing UN Security Council sanctions and our own sanctions against North Korea,” Rear Admiral Jones said.

“We regularly deploy air and maritime assets on Operation Argos to monitor and deter shipments of sanctioned goods, alongside close partners, including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

Since 2018, Australia has deployed maritime patrol aircraft on 13 occasions and Royal Australian Navy vessels 10 times to support the UNSC sanctions.

Commanding Officer No. 11 Squadron, Wing Commander Adam Saber said Defence personnel had provided a major contribution to regional security and stability since the first Operation Argos deployment in 2018.

“Australia’s unwavering commitment to supporting regional stability is a key part of 11 Squadron operations – the versatility of the P-8A aircraft, its interoperability with partner nations and its exceptional reliability make it well suited for Operation Argos,” WGCDR Saber said.

“Every day of the year, 11 Squadron personnel are deployed somewhere in the world in support of Australia’s interests.

“I am extremely proud of their dedication, professionalism and drive, and it is this performance that supports our success on Operation Argos and in the wider region.”

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