HMAS Darwin, in transit to the Middle East, has conducted a passage exercise with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) Escort Task Group 152 off the coast of Queensland.
The task group consists of three ships—the Luyang Class destroyer Jinan, (DDG-152), the Jiangkai Class frigate Yiyang (FFG-548), and the Fuchi Class replenishment ship Qindaohu. (AOR-886).
The task group will spend five days in Brisbane, docking this morning, 2 January 2016, at Grain Terminal Wharf, Bulk Terminals Drive, Port of Brisbane.
The PLA-N task group completed counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden in 2015 before embarking on a global deployment that has seen the task group visit more than a dozen countries during the past five months.
The task group is in the final stages of its global deployment and will return to China shortly.
Australia’s Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett said the activity was a valuable opportunity for the Royal Australian Navy and the PLA-N to operate together.
“The Royal Australian Navy works with China and all of Australia’s regional partners to provide a stable and cooperative security environment and encourages constructive relations between all militaries in the region,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“Activities such as this provide both countries with an opportunity to operate in close proximity and increase their knowledge of each other’s operating procedures.”
No mention was made of current tensions over China’s buildup in the Spratley Islands and Australia’s (and America’s) contesting freedom of movement through the area.
HMAS Darwin departed Sydney on 30 December to assume duties as part of Operation Manitou, which is the Australian Government’s contribution to the international effort to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
HMAS Darwin is the 62nd deployment of an RAN ship to the Middle East.
Photo by Able Seaman Sarah Ebsworth