Analysis: Australian Navy's Fleet delivers in 2019

The past twelve months have been significant for the Navy’s Fleet. Ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel have deployed around the world to exercise high-end warfighting capabilities, support maritime security, contribute to multinational operations and engage with Australia’s regional partners. While this tempo is normal for Navy people, what they delivered this year should not be underestimated.

Analysis Australian Navys Fleet delivers in 2019 925 001 HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide in formation with amphibious landing crafts during Exercise SEA EXPLORER 2019 (Picture source: Australian Ministry of Defense)

“Our people are working hard, every day of the year, around the globe with our allies and partners, securing the maritime domain, supporting sovereignty and prosperity, whilst remaining ever-ready to fight and win at sea,” Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, said.

“We are more focussed than ever on tasks off the Australian station and our high-end warfighting and international engagement. Most of our major and minor warships, including multiple submarines, have deployed overseas this year, which reflects how we do business now.”

In keeping with a shift to task group operations, rather than single-ship deployments, this was also a year that proved how multiple ships working together are strong force multipliers.

HMAS Hobart, one of Australia’s new 147-metre long Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers, spent almost four months deployed in East Asia as the command ship for a Task Group of 11 vessels - Navy’s largest activity of the year.

The space and resources aboard Hobart meant the Task Group Commander and his staff could live and work at sea to lead the entire enterprise directly, proving the ship’s capability beyond firepower alone.

Similarly, a task group staff embarked in the much smaller Minehunter HMAS Diamantina was responsible for coordinating her three-month deployment in-location rather than remotely as had been done in the past.

This coordination saw Diamantina and her sister ship Gascoyne successfully complete their exercise commitments in Japan and Korea, whilst exceeding all previous records for distances travelled by Australian Minehunters.

“Coupled with Diamantina’s deployment to Sri Lanka in company with Hydrographic Survey Vessel HMAS Leeuwin earlier in 2019, we have a far greater appreciation as to what our Minor War Vessels can achieve when deployed in the company,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

Progress towards achieving the full spectrum of high-end warfighting capability in the Hobart class continued this year with the Destroyer HMAS Brisbane deploying for four months to the United States to test her AEGIS Combat System, proving they are the most advanced warships ever at Australia’s disposal.

“Brisbane’s 2019 deployment has proven she is second-to-none when it comes to lethality. We will take the data from her firings in the United States and push the next ship in the class, NUSHIP Sydney, even further when she joins the Fleet, to truly establish what they can do,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

Navy’s two largest ships, Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra achieved the full breadth of amphibious operations in 2019 deploying to the Southwest Pacific and as far as India for Indo-Pacific Endeavour respectively.

“The LHDs have not only played key roles in Navy’s enhanced regional activities this year but also functioned as key enablers for the multinational Exercise TALISMAN SABRE, projecting forces ashore by air and sea. They have recently achieved Final Operating Capability and we can now say we are one of the world’s premier amphibious forces,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

“Meanwhile patrol boats remain the backbone of our border security commitment to Operation RESOLUTE, have supplemented the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to Operation AUGURY in the Philippines and supported our enhanced regional engagement missions across the Southwest Pacific.”

Rear Admiral Mead said it was only through the dedication and professionalism of Navy’s people across the Fleet that the obligations of 2019 were met so effectively.

“Our people at sea are critical to the economic prosperity and safety of their fellow Australians, through maintaining their readiness to fight and working with our partners across the region.

“They put their own interests aside in service to the nation and I am immensely proud of their achievements in 2019.

“They have shown again this year they are among the finest Officers and Sailors in the world and I ask that they demonstrate it again in 2020,” he said.

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