In waters near Ulsan, naval and air assets from Australia and South Korea combined to test maritime warfare skills and build on strong partnerships.
CAPTION: HMAS Toowoomba personnel stand at ease at the forecastle as the ship arrives at Busan Naval Base, South Korea, for Exercise Haedoli Wallaby. Photos by Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez.
Exercise Haedoli Wallaby – named after the ‘Haedoli’ dolphin mascot of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) and the wallaby that symbolises Australia – took place from October 31 to November 3.
The biennial bilateral exercise aimed to strengthen combined operational capabilities and interoperability between the two nations.
Six ships from the ROKN participated, including destroyer ROKS Gang Gam-chan, frigate ROKS Gyeongnam and submarine ROKS Lee Jongmoo, as well as P-3 maritime patrol aircraft and a Lynx maritime helicopter.
Australia contributed RAN frigate HMAS Toowoomba, with its embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, Valkyrie, and a RAAF P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
Toowoomba arrived at Busan Naval Base for the exercise’s shore phase on October 26, which featured activities including mutual exchanges, reciprocal ship visits, an official reception and friendly sports events.
On October 28, members of the ROKN and RAN visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery to lay a wreath in remembrance of the service men and women who fought in the Korean War.
During the sea phase, participating forces conducted anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction operations, tactical manoeuvres and live-fire exercises.
CAPTION: From front, HMAS Toowoomba and Republic of Korea Ships Gang Gam-chan, Gyeongnam and Daecheon conduct officer-of-the-watch manoeuvres.
Commanding Officer ROKN Maritime Battle Group 3 Captain Il Soo Park said there were strong links between the two nations.
“The Australian sailors and aviators are our valued brothers in arms who fought together and shed blood to protect Korea during the Korean War,” he said.
“Through this exercise, we will not only promote friendship between both nations’ armed forces but also strengthen combined operational capabilities.
“We will continue to strengthen Korea’s maritime security through realistic exercises.”
Commanding Officer Toowoomba Commander Darin MacDonald said Australian personnel were proud to participate in the exercise.
“Exercise Haedoli Wallaby is an opportunity to strengthen our core sea-based maritime skills, while working together on briefings, table-top exercises and international engagement activities on shore,” Commander MacDonald said.
“Toowoomba’s participation in this exercise along with the RAAF continues Australia’s longstanding partnership with the ROKN and enhances our ability to operate together at sea and in the air.”
The combined exercise was first conducted in 2012 following an agreement reached between the defence ministers of the two countries in 2011. This year marks the ninth anniversary of the exercise.
Toowoomba participated in Haedoli Wallaby as part of its regional presence deployment throughout South-East and North-East Asia.