Cross-decking on Ex Malabar

The sea phase of Exercise Malabar is under way, with ships from Australia, India, Japan and the United States conducting a series of cross-decking training off the NSW coast.

CAPTIONLeading Seaman Thomas Baskerville marshals a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60K Super Auk, from JS Shiranui, to land on HMAS Brisbane during Exercise Malabar. Story by Lieutenant Marcus Middleton. Photos by Leading Seaman Matthew Lyall.

The activities involved the launch and recovery of ship-based helicopters across multinational ships, to help promote and demonstrate interoperability procedures.

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60K Super Auk, from JS Shiranui, touched down on the flight deck of HMAS Brisbane, at the same time Brisbane’s MH-60R Seahawk practised landings on Shiranui and Indian destroyer INS Kolkata.

The purpose of the reciprocal procedure was to allow partner navies to refine joint techniques and further improve operational performance.

CAPTIONMembers of HMAS Brisbane’s flight deck team prepare for the landing of the SH-60K Super Auk.

On the flight deck of Brisbane, Lieutenant Adrian Pace said guiding in the larger, custom-built Japanese version of the Seahawk was a unique experience.

“It was very interesting to note the different procedures and even though the layout of their aircraft is a little bit different, there are enough similarities to ensure we provide excellence in support,” Lieutenant Pace said.

Lieutenant Pace said with repetition, the regional partners will be able to blend seamlessly together in the future.

“It was a great exercise on interoperability, which allowed us to learn how each navy does things, making it easier in the future to land on each other’s ships whenever required,” he said.

CAPTIONMembers of HMAS Brisbane’s flight deck team prepare for the landing of the SH-60K Super Auk.

Meanwhile, Leading Seaman Aircrewman Belinda Cole, from Brisbane’s flight crew, said cross-decking to Shiranui and Kolkata was a surprisingly simple exercise.

“It varies slightly with the different decks and different markings, but otherwise it is relatively the same,” she said.

Leading Seaman Cole said the flight crew were overwhelmed by the generosity and warm welcome provided by their Japanese and Indian counterparts.

“They were very friendly, displaying amazing hospitality. We were greeted and presented with patches, and they were extremely welcoming to the crew once we were on board,” Leading Seaman Cole said.


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