The vessels will conduct regional engagement activities as part of the ADF’s contribution to maintaining peace and security in south-east Asia.
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HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac have set sail from Darwin to mark the commencement of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 21 (IPE21) — an annual ADF activity, which forms part of the nation’s commitment to bolstering engagement and partnerships with regional security forces, as outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper.
IPE21 is expected to involve approximately 700 participants, including ADF and civilian defence personnel, and maritime forces from partner nations.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, noted the importance of IPE21, which he said underlines Australia’s commitment to enhancing security, co-operation and partnerships in south-east Asia.
“Indo-Pacific Endeavour delivers on this commitment,” LTGEN Bilton said.
“It is a powerful way for the Australian Defence Force to demonstrate Australia’s support for a peaceful, inclusive and resilient region.”
Activities have been modified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with engagements to be primarily carried out through contactless port visits, including a range of virtual workshops and at-sea activities.
“I look forward to leading this task group, working with our partners and building a foundation for future mutually supportive activities when the pandemic eases,” Commander of the IPE21 Task Group, Commodore Mal Wise, added.
“We value this opportunity to work with our friends and partners in the region to enhance our interoperability, improve our co-ordination, and reinforce our shared commitment to a stable region.
“We also look forward to providing a platform to exchange views on important regional issues such as maritime security, gender, peace and security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”
The ships are due to return to Australia in November this year.
IPE21 is the latest of a number of naval deployments, with Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga gearing up for Exercise Malabar 21 — a high-end multinational exercise involving the US, Japan, and India.
Held off the coast of Guam, the exercise is expected to involve a range of maritime operations, including live firings and anti-submarine warfare training.
This will mark the second consecutive year of Australian involvement in the trilateral exercise.
[Related: RAN to join allies off the coast of Guam]