The fleet went ‘all guns blazing’ into the Exercise Kakadu sea phase, with six warships from six nations combining for a gun firing training activity.
CAPTION: HMAS Perth boatswain’s mates Able Seaman Patrick Kehoe and Seaman Mitchell Milne fire a 12.7mm Browning machine gun while conducting anti-aircraft firing serials. Story by Lieutenant Commander Andrew Herring. Photo: Leading Seaman Jarryd Capper.
Shots rang out across calm seas to Australia’s north as each ship unleashed the raw lethality of modern naval firepower with potentially devastating precision.
In scenes reminiscent of the battle fleets of yesteryear, the task group of modern frigates and destroyers formed up ‘line astern’ to take their turn firing at towed targets with the rhythmic coordination of a military drum corps.
In multiple exercises and formations over two days, each ship displayed and enhanced their skills in a rare opportunity to fire in company with other navies, blending different procedures, weapons and ammunition types in a percussive symphony.
The Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth, with its five-inch (127mm) gun, was joined by the US Navy littoral combat ship USS Charleston and Malaysian frigate KD Lekiu with their 57mm guns, the Thai frigate HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej and Japan Self-Defense Force ship JS Kirisame with their 76mm guns, and the French frigate FS Vendemiaire with its 100mm gun.
As well as honing their firing skills, each ship’s bridge team practised manoeuvring in a synchronised formation to safely conduct the gun firing.
Held during the early days of the Exercise Kakadu sea phase, the ‘gunex’ was part of the structured and scheduled force integrated training.
This initial portion of the sea phase integrated ships of different nations together into cohesive multinational task groups before the groups were pitched against one another to practise naval combat tactics according to a fictional scenario in the final ‘free play’ phase of the exercise.
Exercise Kakadu 2022 is being conducted in Darwin and the Northern Australian Exercise area over September 12-24.
It is the 15th iteration of the Royal Australian Navy’s flagship biennial international engagement activity and has drawn together approximately 3000 personnel, 15 warships and 34 aircraft from 22 countries. The exercise theme is ‘Partnership, Leadership and Friendship’.
The exercise provides an opportunity for regional partners to undertake multinational maritime activities ranging from constabulary operations to high-end maritime warfare in a combined environment.