Ships Canberra and Anzac set sail from Darwin, marking the start of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 21 (IPE21), Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity. Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the deployment reinforced Australia’s strong and enduring partnerships in Southeast Asia.

“The 2020 Defence Strategic Update underlines Australia’s commitment to security, cooperation and partnerships in our immediate region,” General Bilton said. “Indo-Pacific Endeavour delivers on this commitment. It is a powerful way for the Australian Defence Force to demonstrate Australia’s support for a peaceful, inclusive and resilient region. The Australian Defence Force has found ways to continue its regular schedule of regional outreach, cooperative training and information sharing, despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19.”

Centred on a maritime task group, IPE21 involves approximately 700 people, including Australian Defence Force and civilian defence personnel, and sea riders from partner nations. Engagements have been modified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be carried out primarily through contactless port visits, including a range of virtual workshops and at-sea activities.

Commander of the IPE21 Task Group, Commodore Mal Wise, said while the deployment would remain contactless, the opportunities to conduct engagements were meaningful. “I look forward to leading this task group, working with our partners and building a foundation for future mutually supportive activities when the pandemic eases,” Wise said. “We value this opportunity to work with our friends and partners in the region to enhance our interoperability, improve our coordination, and reinforce our shared commitment to a stable region. We also look forward to providing a platform to exchange views on important regional issues such as maritime security, gender, peace and security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

All measures have been taken to ensure IPE21 is conducted in a COVID-19 safe manner, including testing deploying personnel, pre-deployment quarantine and contactless activities. The ships are due to return to Australia in November this year.


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