Four Royal Australian Navy warships formed off Australia’s East Coast to conduct a tactical transit in the opening stages of Fleet Certification Period 2020 (FCP20).
The four ships involved in the tactical transit were Anzac-class frigates HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) and HMAS Arunta (FFH 151); Hobart-class air warfare destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) and fleet replenishment vessel HMAS Sirius (O 266). The formation signaled the start of the sea phase of FCP20, which is the Royal Australian Navy’s first major training exercise for the year and focuses on mid-intensity high-end warfighting.
The vessels conducted the evolution on their way to Bass Strait where they will join the Navy’s Canberra-class landing helicopter dock, HMAS Canberra (L02); Huon-class minehunters, HMAS Huon (M 82) and HMAS Diamantina (M 86); and Collins-class attack submarines, HMAS Collins (SSG 73) and HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74), for several week of detailed maritime warfare serials that graduate in difficulty and complexity.
Commodore Flotillas (COMFLOT) Commodore Michael Harris said FCP20 was a demonstration of the Royal Australian Navy’s rapidly advancing and highly capable sea and air control capabilities.
“The successful completion of FCP20 will demonstrate Navy’s ability to project power at sea, to maintain freedom of manoeuvre and open sea lanes and protect Australia’s borders and national interests abroad,” Commodore Harris said. “FCP20 will re-affirm that we have an adaptive and responsive maritime task group able to operate across the full spectrum of warfare from humanitarian and disaster relief through to conflict in defence of Australia and its national interests.”
This year also marks the first time an Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) has taken part in a Fleet Certification Period with HMAS Hobart providing air-defense to the Task Group while Minehunters Diamantina and Huon represent Navy’s ability to insert minor war vessels into a large-scale activity alongside major fleet units and boost overall capability.
The surface and submarine combatants are also joined by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), a U.S. Navy P-8A MPA and a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K Orion MPA which will test the Task Group’s readiness against airborne threats. Three RAN MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ maritime multi-mission helicopters are also participating in the FCP20.
Commodore Harris said the participation of international partners promoted “regional stability through cooperation integration and a collective desire for a stable and peaceful region.
“FCP20 is an invaluable way for Australia, New Zealand and the United States to train together so we can fight together effectively at sea and work together to preserve maritime security and a rules-based order,” Commodore Harris said.
Involving more than 2000 military personnel, the sea phase of FCP20 will be held in the Bass Strait until 6 March with participating ships also visiting ports in Victoria and Tasmania.