Four Royal Australian Navy warships departed Sydney in formation, on Feb. 17, to mark the start of the sea phase of Navy’s first major exercise for the year, Fleet Certification Period 2020 (FCP20).
FCP20 is a high-end warfighting exercise which will certify the participating ships and their crews ‘ready to deploy’ on behalf of the Australian Government. Involving more than 2000 military personnel, the sea phase of FCP20 is held in the Bass Strait from 17 February to 6 March. FCP20 will include port visits in Melbourne and Portland, Victoria and Burnie, Devonport and Launceston, Tasmania.
The four ships are 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 vessels will sail to the Bass Strait where they will engage with five other Australian ships and submarines as well as military aircraft from Australia, the United States, and New Zealand.
Participating aircraft will include a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, a U.S. Navy P-8A MPA, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K Orion MPA and three Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ maritime multi-mission helicopters.
Australian Clearance Diving Team One will also conduct Very Shallow Water Mine Counter Measure (MCM) operations as part of the dedicated MCM Task Group deployed to northeastern Tasmania.
Commodore Flotillas (COMFLOT), Commodore Michael Harris, said FCP20 would further develop Navy’s ability to engage in complex and dynamic warfighting activities based around sea and air control capabilities.
“FCP20 will test competencies in a range of scenarios, including high-end warfighting in the blue water ocean environment, amphibious operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, similar to our recent Bushfire Assist mission,” Commodore Harris said.
This iteration will be the first time a Hobart Class Destroyer has participated in an FCP.
Commanding Officer HMAS Hobart, Commander Ryan Gaskin, said the exercise would test the platforms and personnel involved through maritime warfare serials that graduate in difficulty and complexity.
“Exercising with multiple ships, submarines and military aircraft will allow us to test our warfighting capabilities and to assess our preparedness in a challenging maritime environment,” Commander Gaskin said.