The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has completed its largest deployment of the year, with all of the Task Group ships returning home after three months of engagement with regional partners across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. As HMAS Hobart sailed into Sydney Friday (9 October), it marked the final ship arriving home after a busy Regional Presence Deployment 2020. The remainder of the Task Group included HMA Ships Canberra, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Navy had further strengthened Australia’s relationships with regional partners during the deployment. “The Australian Defence Force conducts regular military-to-military engagements throughout the Indo-Pacific, to demonstrate that our commitment to our regional partners remains solid and our desire for a stable and secure region is a priority,” Reynolds said. “I commend the more than 700 ADF personnel who spent the last three months working alongside our partners, demonstrating our capability and showing themselves to be professional and resilient. I also thank their families, because without their support, the deployment of our ADF personnel would not be possible. This regional deployment demonstrates how Defence has adapted to the COVID-19 crisis, quickly and effectively adopting COVID-safe practices.”
Key milestones of the deployment include:
- The Task Group exercised with 11 regional partners, including Brunei, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Singapore, and the United States of America;
- The Task Group conduct advanced air-sea integration drills with the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Navy in waters off Guam;
- Canberra participated in the successful search and rescue of three sailors in the Federated States of Micronesia;
- The Task Group participated in the world’s largest maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii;
- HMA Ships Hobart, Stuart and Arunta successfully conducted live missile firings during RIMPAC;
- Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters successfully fired Hellfire missiles during RIMPAC; and
- Commander of the Task Group, Captain Phillipa Hay, CSC, RAN became the first female to lead an exercise Task Force in the 49-year history of RIMPAC.
Hay said it had been an honour to lead the Task Group and she was extremely grateful and proud of the efforts of the professional Royal Australian Navy’s officers and sailors. “The Regional Presence Deployment 2020 was conducted during a global pandemic which presented new challenges to how we conduct military operations. The mission has also been enormously successful, achieved through hard work and true blue Australian strength of character. We have demonstrated Australia’s ongoing commitment to the region, and further developed our interoperability and cohesiveness with partner nations, maintaining a secure, stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific.”