The Royal Australian Navy and United States Navy elements have successfully concluded Exercise Dugong 2021 in Western Australia. They exercise was declared finished last Friday (5 November). For the past three weeks, specialist Coalition mine warfare units have been exercising in a simulated scenario to test their ability to keep the Port of Fremantle and Indian Ocean accesses open in the event of a hostile action against Australia.

Assistant Minister for Defence, Andrew Hastie said Exercise Dugong had tested the Coalition’s ability to integrate emerging and legacy mine warfare systems, technologies and practices. “We live in a region that is at the centre of great power competition, our Indian Ocean approaches are vital sea lanes, and we must be ready to meet our changing strategic circumstances,” Hastie said. “Navy’s mine warfare and countermeasure practices are evolving to meet both current and emerging threats. As new weapons and technologies advance, the Royal Australian Navy is working with Industry and coalition partners to test new systems in autonomous and artificial intelligence realms.”

Keeping sea lanes and ports safe and open is critical to the prosperity and security of Australia. “Keeping Australia’s maritime environment safe in a dynamic strategic environment is critical,” Hastie said.

During Exercise Dugong, Royal Australian Navy units HMA Ships Gascoyne and Yarra, Australian Clearance Diving Teams One and Four, the Maritime Geospatial Unit and specialist mine warfare personnel worked alongside the United States Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five. All exercise participants – interstate and international – were subject to all Western Australian State Government public health requirements and completed 14-days quarantine before joining the exercise.

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