Warships from Australia, Japan and the US got together in the Philippine Sea on July 21 to undertake a trilateral passage as they head for the international exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) taking place off Hawaii.
A Royal Australian Navy task group, composed of landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra, destroyer HMAS Hobart and frigates Stuart and Arunta, has joined the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, which includes the United States Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin. The Australian and US ships are joined by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki.
The group will rehearse replenishment at sea, aviation operations, maritime maneuvers and communications drills.
Captain Sakano Yusuke, Commander of Japan’s Escort Division 4, said strengthening cooperation with the US Navy and Royal Australian Navy is vitally important for Japan and contributes to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“The experience in this exercise will give us tactical and operational advantages and make our friendships stronger, in addition to our regular joint exercises with both like-minded navies,” Captain Sakano said.
“The relationships we’ve developed enable us to meet at sea and immediately operate at an advanced level. This highlights the enduring nature of our alliances with Japan and Australia,” US Navy Captain Russ Caldwell, Commanding Officer USS Antietam, added.
“The United States is fortunate to routinely operate alongside its allies across the Indo-Pacific and coordinated operations like these reinforce our mutual commitment to international maritime norms and promoting regional stability.”
The trilateral passage will conclude on July 23.
This year’s RIMPAC exercise will take place between August 17 and 31, and is designed as at-sea-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be accessible for logistics support, with a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions.
This year’s exercise will include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations, and live-fire training events, among other cooperative training opportunities.
The US Navy, which is hosting the drill every two years, has not provided information on how many countries are expected to participate in the exercise. The 2018 edition was joined by 26 nations.