17 May 2023
Conducting a joint, combined exercise across land, air and maritime domains involves skilled operators and complex technology.
HMAS Anzac recently joined ships from the Royal Malaysian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy at sea for the Five Power Defence Arrangements' (FPDA) Exercise Bersama Shield, working to enhance interoperability in a multi-threat environment.
Lieutenant Benn Van Balen was one of the principal warfare officers aboard HMAS Anzac responsible for conducting the battle on the surface, in the air and below the water.
“For Bersama Shield we were fortunate enough to have training serials in multiple spheres of warfare – a sphere of warfare can be limited to the air environment, the surface or the sub-surface environment,” he said.
“Exercising with our FPDA partners Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom meant that there were a lot of assets that we were able to utilise to exercise these serials with each other across the Malaysian peninsula.
“We conducted air defence exercises, anti-submarine warfare exercises, as well as surface exercises, which are ship-on-ship engagement exercises.”
Lieutenant Van Balen said the ability to exercise with live assets was always appreciated and something to learn from.
“The multitude of live assets brought to bear by the Singaporeans and Malaysians throughout, as well as working with the many exercise construct staff from the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia, was of great benefit for Anzac,” he said.
While the players in these training serials were primarily based in HMAS Anzac’s operation room and bridge, the ship’s embarked MH-60R helicopter, named Carnage, was also a key enabler in gathering information and providing it back to the ship.
Carnage aircrewman Leading Seaman Jim Neville conducted surface and sub-surface search flights throughout Bersama Shield.
“Having a helicopter embarked aboard HMAS Anzac greatly increases the ship’s capability – there’s a variety of roles that the helicopter can fulfil for the ship,” he said.
“Carnage is capable of tracking and scanning ahead of the ship for any underwater contacts or using the radar and forward-looking infrared camera to extend the range of what the ship can see.
“There is also the capability of search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation and vertical replenishment, where we can externally load stores from land to ship or ship to ship. There’s a lot of different things we can achieve.
“I think the best thing for me is the variety of different roles we can perform from the back of the helicopter.”