Australia-Japan war games in the Pacific

By Tom Ravlic

Monday November 15, 2021

HMAS Warramunga
HMAS Warramunga during a Remembrance Day service at sea in the waters near Japan. (Defence)

Australia and Japan have spent three days in the past week off the coast of Japan in the middle of an annual military exercise that has been held annually for 12 years.

Both the Royal Australian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force use ships and aircraft in the exercise known as Nichi-gou Trident.

This exercise was one of several exercises during the year in which both Australia and Japan participated, including Malabar, Talisman Sabre, Pacific Vanguard, Arc-21 And La Perouse.

Australia’s Anzac class frigate HMAS Warramunga and its MH-60 helicopter and Japan’s Murasame class destroyer JS Inazuma were used in various activities over the three-day period.

These activities included maritime warfare serials and navigating in-company and aviation operations.

Rear Admiral Mark Hammond, the commander of Australia’s fleet, said the purpose of the exercise was to build the capability of both Australia’s and Japan’s navies to work together at sea.

“Japan is a special strategic partner, and shares our democratic values, commitment to a rules-based global order and desire to support a safe and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Hammond said.

“By working together often in different maritime environments, we enhance our joint capability and ensure the compatibility of systems.

“We are particularly pleased to have conducted the first-ever Australia-Japan Asset Protection Mission, under Article 95-2 of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces Law. It’s cooperation like this that enables us to take our interoperability to the next level.”

The bilateral exercise involving Australian and Japanese naval forces happened in the same week that saw the Royal Australian Navy launch its latest ship.

A ceremony was held at Fleet West Base, Rockingham, in Western Australia to commission HMAS Stalwart, one of two supply class auxiliary oiler replenishment ships.

Representatives from the Department of Defence were also a part of the annual Joint Heads of Pacific Security meeting over the past week that had delegations from 24 countries and territories as well as five regional bodies.

A key focus of that meeting was the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the region and participants discussed issues such as the reopening of international borders as jurisdictions reached particular vaccination targets.


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