May 13, 2017 – HMAS Ballarat has played a key role in the recent Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD, as part of her South East Asia deployment.
The annual event conducted under the Five Power Defence Arrangements, formed in 1971 and is the longest continuing arrangement of its type in the region.
Air and naval assets from the member nations of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom conducted the exercise in international waters off the coast of Malaysia from 26 April until 9 May.
Commanding Officer Ballarat, Commander David Landon, said the activity was a very topical exercise.
“I think it is maybe more relevant today than previous years,” Commander Landon said.
“It provides a stable platform for the five nations in the region to build on cooperation and professional interaction.
“In today’s environment it’s more needed than ever before.”
At sea, the exercise included five days of extensive training including combined anti-submarine exercises with HMAS Farncomb, gunnery, air defence, at-sea replenishment, damage control exercises, surface warfare and cross-deck visits between participating vessels.
Culminating in a two day unscripted war exercise that tested the ability of the task group to adapt to simultaneous, coordinated attacks from the air, surface and sub-surface, Ballarat’s Navigation Officer Lieutenant Mitchell Smith said it was an opportunity to build and enhance regional defence cooperation.
“This was a great exercise for my team to develop their skills and learn from some of our regional partners,” he said.
Commanding Officer of New Zealand Anzac class frigate HMNZS Te Kaha, Commander Steve Lenik was Commander of the Exercise Task Group.
“BERSAMA SHIELD allowed the participating forces to come together and exercise in a multi-threat environment,” he said.
“The task group performed to a high standard and integrated seamlessly, as evidenced by the successful completion of the free-play war exercise phase.
“Being afforded the opportunity to command a multi-national task group was a real privilege, and I’m proud of my team in Te Kaha and what we’ve achieved,” Commander Lenik said.
Ballarat will participate in the 50th Anniversary Fleet Review of the Republic of Singapore Navy, before continuing with her deployment.