US Army up close with Melbourne

International engagement during Exercise RIMPAC started early for HMAS Melbourne as the ship welcomed aboard 20 soldiers from the US Army in Hawaii.

The American troops from the 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) stepped aboard for a tour of the ship while she was alongside at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to learn about her capabilities and history.

The 5th BCD guests were surprised to learn of Melbourne’s 26 years of operational service and her links to the United States Navy as a variant of its Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigate.

The tour included living spaces like the junior sailors’ café as well as the main engine space, bridge and gun direction platform.

The highlight was an opportunity to watch Melbourne’s SM2 vertical launch system rapidly load a guided missile training round on the ship’s forecastle in less than a second.

Commanding Officer of 5th BDC, Colonel Kareem Montague, said his unit’s role integrating multinational services during RIMPAC presented them with a unique opportunity to step aboard a Royal Australian Navy vessel and meet the crew.

“We already have a very close working relationship with the Australian Army but this is an opportunity to see not only a sister service, but a foreign service’s naval vessel,” he said.

“We were not disappointed and it was interesting to see the pride they take in their ship, the time they spend working on it and how they’ve got such a long life out of it compared to the US.”

Colonel Montague also presented US Army Captain Joe Grennon with the Army Achievement Medal on Melbourne’s flight deck in front of members of the ship’s company.

HMAS Melbourne will spend a significant amount of time at sea during RIMPAC, exercising a wide range of capabilities with more than 40 other ships and submarines from 25 countries.

She is joined at RIMPAC by HMA Ships Adelaide, Rankin, Success and Toowoomba.

Hosted biennially, RIMPAC is the world’s largest naval exercise and provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships across nations.

RIMPAC takes place from June 27 to August 2.