HMAS Brisbane recently strengthened international partnerships and honed maritime warfare skills during Exercise Bersama Lima.
CAPTION: Guided missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane prepares to come alongside HMNZS Aotearoa for a replenishment at sea during Exercise Bersama Lima. Story by Lieutenant Commander Andrew Herring. Photo by Petty Officer Troy Haydon.
The annual exercise drew together maritime, air and land forces from Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) countries; Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Following a weeklong harbour phase, the 10-day sea phase in the seas off Malaysia and Singapore had Brisbane and partner nations engaging in combined training across several maritime warfare disciplines.
Crews practised maritime interdiction skills, which are vital for intercepting military or civilian shipping to enforce embargoes, protect seagoing trade, counter piracy or – during conflict – disrupt supply lines and blockade ports.
Boarding parties deployed via the ship’s rigid hull inflatable boats, supported by Brisbane’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, provided overwatch while they boarded simulated merchant ships, played by Royal New Zealand Navy logistics ship HMNZS Aotearoa and Royal Malaysian Navy Keris-class littoral mission ship KD Keris.
Bridge teams practised ship handling and communications skills by conducting close, coordinated manoeuvring with partner nations’ ships – called officer-of-the-watch manoeuvres – and during replenishments at sea as Brisbane refuelled from Aotearoa.
Interoperability – the ability of partner militaries to operate together – was enhanced by many activities, including operating the Super Seasprite helicopter from New Zealand’s Anzac-class frigate HMNZS Te Mana from Brisbane’s flight deck.
Brisbane also strengthened international relations by hosting visits from Singaporean, Malaysian and New Zealand Navy personnel.
CAPTION: HMAS Brisbane and HMNZS Te Mana prepares to conduct a replenishment at sea with HMNZS Aotearoa. Photo by Leading Seaman Belinda Cole.
Commanding Officer Brisbane Commander Grant Coleman praised his ship’s company for their efforts during Bersama Lima.
“Opportunities to engage and exercise with our FPDA partners on this scale are valuable, and it was fantastic to see the smooth integration of personnel from all five nations working seamlessly together,” Commander Coleman said.
“Brisbane’s crew performed exceptionally, rising to the challenge of training in a complex and congested air and maritime environment while supporting our partners, demonstrating again the resilience of the FPDA partner nations.”
Bersama Lima focused on combined joint operations in a multi-threat environment across land, air and maritime domains, with training designed to enhance interoperability and strengthen professional relationships.
About 800 ADF personnel deployed to Malaysia for the exercise, with assets including F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft, C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft, the destroyer Brisbane and its embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.
The FPDA, established in 1971, is the only multilateral security arrangement of its kind in Southeast Asia.
Brisbane participated in the exercise as part of a regional presence deployment throughout south-east and north-east Asia. Along with HMA Ships Stalwart and Toowoomba, Brisbane has been conducting training, exercises, port visits and other engagements with regional partners.