Ballarat and McCain test freedom in South China Sea

HMAS Ballarat and USS John S. McCain came together in the South China Sea this month to exercise the capabilities of both ships and crews – and freedom of navigation in the region.

CAPTION: HMAS Ballarat sails with USS John S. McCain in the Strait of Malacca. Photo by Leading Seaman Shane Cameron.

The Australian Anzac-class frigate and the US Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer practised drills and other tactics on October 27 before both ships sailed through the Strait of Malacca.

Once through the strait and in the Andaman Sea, the joint training will continue with cross-deck helicopter operations and a gunnery exercise.

Commanding officer Ballarat Commander Antony Pisani welcomed the opportunity to exercise with the McCain.

“The cooperative deployment allows the crew of the Ballarat to hone our warfare and mariner skills and develop our ability to operate and communicate with the US Navy,” he said.

“The shared mutual trust both navies have ensures such activities are mutually beneficial, enhancing the readiness and preparedness of both ships.”

He said the exercise was important as it reinforced both nations’ commitment to exercise freedom of navigation across the Indo-Pacific region under international law.

McCain’s commanding officer Commander Ryan T. Easterday echoed Commander Pisani’s comments.

“We find tremendous value in sailing alongside our close ally, Australia, as well as our other allies and partners in support of a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

“The training conducted helps the ships’ crews improve their mariner skills and warfighting proficiency, in addition to the benefits of both crews working together as a team.”

McCain is part of the 7th Fleet − the US Navy’s largest fleet − that interacts with 35 nations in the Indo-Pacific region.

McCain’s operations officer Lieutenant Anthony Haywood said the 7th Fleet was constantly working with its partner nations to cement those alliances.

Before joining Ballarat, McCain conducted trilateral operations alongside HMAS Arunta and JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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