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Exercise Talisman Saber fleet prepares for battle


Ship's company from Royal Australian Navy Anzac Class frigate HMAS Perth keep watch from the gun directional platform during an air-defence exercise held during Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

Following aggression by the fictional island nation ‘Kamaria’, Australia and the United States have been called upon to form a combined force to restore peace and security to the region.

Now, a large and highly capable Australian and US Navy fleet is amassing in the Coral Sea to prepare for action against the mythical ‘Kamarians’.

This fictional scenario provides the backdrop for Exercise Talisman Saber 2013, a bilateral Australian/US exercise aimed at improving combat readiness and the ability of US and Australian forces to operate together.

As the fictional political scenario unfolds, warships from the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy’s 7th fleet are gathering together for an initial period of force integration training, designed to get the two navies used to working together before engaging in higher level ‘free-play’ combat exercises.

Training so far has included anti-submarine and anti-air warfare exercises, underway replenishments and coordinated manoeuvres involving multiple ships steaming in formation.

Among the fleet is the Upgraded Anzac Class frigate HMAS Perth, sporting its recently-installed anti-ship missile defences.

Attacks by Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets have tested the ship’s upgraded sensors and combat system while members of Perth’s 5-inch gun crew have proven their skills in live firing exercises against towed airborne targets.

Perth’s bridge and operations room teams have been put through their paces working in close company with US Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Preble and USS Chung Hoon and Ticonderoga Class cruiser USS Antietam and Australian guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney.

Other members of the ship’s company have participated in several fire fighting and damage control exercises.

HMAS Perth Commanding Officer, Captain Lee Goddard said this initial phase of the exercise training was invaluable, as it set the scene for the next stage of the combined training.

“This initial force integration training aims to bring together a large number of ships that will be working together during the exercise so they can become an effective combined fighting force.

“It gives us the opportunity to establish command and control relationships, refine operating procedures and learn how we can best use the capabilities each ship brings to the task force.

“Once this solid foundation is established, we can safely move into higher level training in a free-play exercise environment where we respond to a rapidly unfolding exercise scenario,” Captain Goddard said.

Perth is participating in exercise Talisman Saber alongside other Royal Australian Navy vessels HMA Ships Choules, Sydney, Waller and Tarakan and helicopters from 816 and 808 Squadrons. Also involved in Talisman Saber is Spanish combat support ship ESPS Cantabria and ships from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, including the USS George Washington aircraft carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group led by Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.

Exercise Talisman Saber will run from 15 July – 5 August, with around 28,000 Australian and US personnel taking part in the 21-day exercise being held in the Coral Sea and in military training areas in central and northern Queensland.

Supporting activities are also underway in the waters of the Timor and Arafura Seas, and throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory.