Ex Pacific Vanguard lets fly

Exercise Pacific Vanguard started with a bang this week after warships from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US converged on the East Australian Exercise Area (EAXA).

CAPTION: HMAS Brisbane launches its Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile during Exercise Pacific Vanguard. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

HMAS Brisbane, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force ship JS Makinami, South Korea’s Navy ship ROKS Wang Geon, and US Navy ship USS Rafael Peralta took part in a firing exercise that included some of the most advanced surface-to-air missiles available.

Brisbane initiated the combined firepower with the launch of an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).

This was followed by missile firings from JS Makinami and USS Rafael Peralta. The ships operated as a task group led by ROKS Wang Geon, which included the Australian submarine HMAS Rankin.

Commanding Officer Brisbane Commander Aaron Cox said it allowed participants to have confidence that they could work together as a combined regional force.

“Exercises like Pacific Vanguard are an important navy-to-navy training opportunity and allow us to hone our warfighting skills with partner nations,” Commander Cox said.

“The chance to do this in Australian waters for the first time makes it even more special.”

Maritime Warfare Centre Weapons Test Director Commander Stephen Waring said the live firings by a multinational task group was a milestone event.

“Australian ships get to participate in live firings at exercises such as Rimpac, but this is the first time that ships from Japan and the US have combined with an Australian warship for a joint guided weapon live firing in the EAXA,” Commander Waring said.

As well as the live-missile firings, the four partner nations are conducting a range of training activities, including surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and ship-to-ship communications.

Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force Captain Hirai Katsuhide, Commander Escort Division 1 on board JS Makinami, said it was an honour to conduct the exercise in Australia and it helped to preserve the stability of, and freedom of access to, the global commons.

“My hope is that this exercise enhances cooperation between all participants and contributes to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region towards the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Captain Katsuhide said.

CAPTION: HMAS Brisbane, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Makinami, Republic of Korea Navy destroyer ROKS Wang Geon, and United States Navy destroyer USS Rafael Peralta sail through the East Australian Exercise Area during Exercise PACIFIC VANGUARD. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

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