450 men and women who embarked on HMAS Canberra earlier this year have returned to Fleet Base East, Sydney following a near five-month deployment. The Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) left Sydney in July and took part in Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 21 off Queensland, before joining the US-led Large Scale Global Exercise 21 in the Western Pacific.  Recently the ship took part in exercise BERSAMA GOLD near Singapore to mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. HMAS Canberra also led an Australian task group that included HMA Ships Anzac and Sirius on Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 (IPE21), Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity.

Commander IPE21, Commodore Mal Wise, said, despite the challenges of COVID-19, the contactless deployment was able to achieve meaningful engagement with many regional partners. “We engaged directly with eight regional nations, conducting virtual workshops on issues of importance and practicing interoperability between navies. IPE continues to be an important way for Australia and partner nations to reinforce that an open, inclusive and resilient Indo‑Pacific benefits all nations in the region,” Wise said.

IPE21 involved multiple engagements with partners in Southeast Asia – including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as interaction with ships from the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand. Canberra was one of seven major fleet units that deployed to East Asia this year in a tangible demonstration of Australia’s commitment to security cooperation and partnerships in our immediate region. HMA Ships Ballarat, Brisbane and Warramunga concurrently deployed.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Canberra, Captain Jace Hutchison thanked his crew for their professionalism. “Being at sea for such a long period of time can be very challenging. The crew has demonstrated resilience, professionalism and a great deal of commitment while deployed and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Hutchison said. “Of course, standing behind the crew are countless family and friends without whom we could not do this job. I thank them for their support.”

Now home, Canberra’s crew will take some leave but will remain at 48-hours notice to move over Christmas and New Year’s as part of Navy’s contingency planning for the high risk weather season.

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