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Australian Navy's Warships depart Sydney for first major Fleet exercise of 2020

HMA Ships Stuart, Hobart, Arunta and Sirius departed Sydney in formation today to mark the start of the sea phase of Navy’s first major exercise for the year, Fleet Certification Period 2020.

Australian Navys Warships depart Sydney for first major Fleet exercise of 2020 925 001 HMAS Arunta, followed by HMAS Stuart, departs Sydney Harbour for the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Certification Period 2020 (Picture source: Commonwealth of Australia)

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.

The four warships will sail to 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.

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.

Participating aircraft will include a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A, a United States Navy P-8, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K and three Royal Australian Navy MH-60R 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 north eastern Tasmania.

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.

Involving more than 2000 military personnel, the sea phase of FCP20 is held in Bass Strait from 17 February to 6 March.

FCP20 will include port visits in Melbourne and Portland, Victoria and Burnie, Devonport and Launceston, Tasmania.