USS John S. McCain, HMAS Ballarat Conduct Integrated Operations in South China Sea

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) joined the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) during integrated operations in the South China Sea, Oct 27.

Both ships conducted maneuvering drills, integrated tactical training, and warfighting scenarios while transiting together. McCain and Ballarat also conducted a combined transit to the Andaman Sea through the Strait of Malacca.

Following their Strait of Malacca transit, McCain and Ballarat are scheduled to continue operations in the Andaman Sea with multi-domain warfare training, cross-deck helicopter operations, and a joint gunnery exercise. The ship are sailing for Exercise Malabar 2020 where they will join with Indian and Japanese partners for the high-end military exercise.

“We find tremendous value in sailing alongside our close allies of Australia, as well as our other allies and partners, in support of a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region,” said Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, McCain’s commanding officer. “The training we are conducting while we operate together helps both ships’ crews improve their mariner skills and warfighting proficiency, in addition to the interoperability benefits we accrue by working together as a team.”

Prior to joining Ballarat, McCain conducted trilateral maritime operations alongside the JS Kirisame (DD 104) of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), and the HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) of the Royal Australian Navy. These exercises aim to further strengthen interoperability between allied navies.

“Integrated maritime operations allow us to exercise our capabilities with our allies,” said Lt. Anthony Haywood, the operations officer aboard McCain. “Being in the 7th Fleet area of operations, we’re constantly working with our partner nations to keep solidifying that bond, structure and alliance.”

“It is important to continue training on the basics as well as complex taskings, that is why we do these exercises,” Haywood continued. “Establish our playbook so that when we face real-time situations, it’s muscle memory and we are ready.”

Commanding Officer of Ballarat, Cmdr. Antony Pisani welcomed the cooperative deployment with USS McCain.

“The cooperative deployment allows HMAS Ballarat and broader Navy to hone our warfare and mariner skills and develop our ability to operate and communicate together,” said Cmdr. Pisani. “The shared mutual trust both navies have for each other, ensure such activities are mutually beneficial enhancing the readiness and preparedness of the ships that undertake them. This deployment reinforces our commitment and right to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight under international law across our Indo-Pacific region.”

John S. McCain is underway conducting operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.

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