Australia and the US have wrapped up an interoperability exercise off the coast of Western Australia.
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Royal Australian Navy HMA Ships Gascoyne and Yarra — joined by Australian Clearance Diving Teams One and Four, the Maritime Geospatial Unit and specialist mine warfare personnel — have teamed up with the US Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five as part of Exercise Dugong 2021.
Over the past three weeks, the mine warfare units trained in a simulated scenario, tasked with keeping the Port of Fremantle and Indian Ocean accesses open in the event of a hostile action against Australia.
Personnel tested their interoperability, integrating emerging and legacy mine warfare systems, technologies and practices.
Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie noted the value of Exercise Dugong, particularly in the current geostrategic environment.
“We live in a region that is at the centre of great power competition, our Indian Ocean approaches are vital sea lanes, and we must be ready to meet our changing strategic circumstances,” he said.
“Navy’s mine warfare and countermeasure practices are evolving to meet both current and emerging threats.
“As new weapons and technologies advance, the Royal Australian Navy is working with Industry and coalition partners to test new systems in autonomous and artificial intelligence realms.”
Hastie stressed the importance of preserving freedom of movement through sea lanes and ports in fostering prosperity and security.
“Keeping Australia’s maritime environment safe in a dynamic strategic environment is critical,” he added.
The exercises were conducted in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, with personnel subject to all WA state government public health requirements.