APEC 18 ASSIST Maritime Task Group completes mission

November 26, 2018 – Amphibious components of the Australian Defence Force’s Operation APEC 2018 ASSIST have returned to Australia having successfully supported Papua New Guinea with maritime security advice, assistance and contingency effects during the APEC 2018 Leaders’ Summit.

The ADF provided this support at the request of the Government of Papua New Guinea, working closely with PNG’s Joint Security Task Force (JSTF), which was comprised of units from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF).

ADF Maritime Component Commander, Captain Paul O’Grady, is proud of the milestones achieved by the maritime component.

“APEC 2018 was a fantastic example of what can be achieved by working cooperatively and with a joint mindset from initial planning through to training on multilateral exercises and force integration, resulting in seamless execution of maritime security effects,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea’s delivery of the maritime and other security operations was first-class, supported by the ADF, the Royal New Zealand Navy and the US Coast Guard, as international security partners.

“APEC 2018 saw the most extensive collaboration between the PNGDF Maritime Element and the RPNGC Water Police to date, and we look forward to supporting this high level of integration into the future.

Maritime security operations were undertaken by RPNGC Water Police boats, PNGDF patrol boats HMPNG Ships Dreger and Moresby, Australian patrol boats HMA Ships Glenelg and Larrakia, the New Zealand offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago, and eight US Coast Guard transportable port security boats.

Maintaining a high profile in Port Moresby’s Fairfax Harbour, the landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide operated as a command and control node and sea-base enabling the execution and sustainment of maritime security operations.

“The US Coast Guard operated their boats from Adelaide, using her as a base for 24/7 patrols around key APEC venues, supported by Otago, Glenelg and Larrakia,” CAPT O’Grady said.

“APEC 2018 was the first time the US Coast Guard has deployed this capability from a foreign warship and the close bonds between Australia and the US, and New Zealand, ensured this was successful.”

Also achieving a number of milestones during APEC 2018 were the landing contingency forces commanded by Colonel Malcolm Wells, including the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (Amphibious) Small Boats capability, and the motorized infantry capability provided by members from the 7th Combat Brigade.

“This deployment saw the first operational deployment of the 2 RAR Small Boats capability, which was a significant milestone for the Battalion as it has, for a number of years now, led Army’s development of amphibious operations,” COL Wells said

“To see this fully integrated into the joint amphibious capability operationally is something all who have been involved should be very proud of.

“The development and certification of amphibious capabilities within 7 Combat Brigade as an integral part of Army’s force generation cycle, for the first time this year, has been very successful.

“Huge work, detailed planning and a commitment to new skills has seen Battle Group Ram not only provide this concept, but validated it on a successful operational deployment.

“I am proud that we have been able to deploy these capabilities to provide a specialized security and contingency effect in support of our closest neighbor.”

Additional milestones achieved during APEC 2018 ASSIST include the deployment of eight Navy and Army helicopters on an LHD operating by day and night; the most comprehensive Maritime Role 2 Enhanced medical facility deployed to date; and the longest sustainment period of embarked personnel on an LHD.

“Overall, APEC 2018 ASSIST has seen the operational validation of capabilities for both the ADF amphibious force and Navy, deployed in support of a partner nation,” CAPT O’Grady said.

“It has set a new level of realized operational effect and has set the scene for future development and exercises.”