Partnerships Strengthened in Sulu Sea Exercise
Navy ships from five nations, including HMA Ships Hobart and Stalwart, completed Exercise Sama Sama Lumbas in the Philippines during October.
The Royal Australian Navy guided missile destroyer Hobart and auxiliary oiler replenishment ship Stalwart operated with ships from the Philippine Navy, United States Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Navy, and a variety of aircraft.
The exercise comprised surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare serials, a search-and-rescue exercise and replenishments at sea.
Hobart Commanding Officer Commander Andrew Pepper said it strengthened practical cooperation and enhanced interoperability.
“We are all now a more effective, stronger team which has combined our knowledge and capabilities towards a common goal,” Commander Pepper said.
“This stands us in good stead, as we work together for a safe, secure Indo-Pacific, in a rules-based global order.”
A key goal of the exercise was to facilitate a replenishment at sea with the Philippine Navy guided missile frigate BRP José Rizal.
Stalwart Commanding Officer Commander Steve McCracken said Stalwart and the Sea Training Group combined to support the replenishment.
“This was a major milestone for the Philippine Navy and Stalwart was privileged to be a part of it,” Commander McCracken said.
“Experiences such as this exercise build trust and make us a more integrated and capable force.”
A gunnery exercise also demonstrated regional capability and coordination, as ships sailing in formation fired close-range guns at a floating target.
Boatswains Mate Seaman Louie Ford said it was extremely rewarding to fire a Typhoon Mk 25 gun from a console inside Hobart.
“It felt amazing to implement all the skills we learnt on course and apply them in a real-time scenario,” Seaman Ford said.
Able Seaman Aimee Burrows maintained ship-to-ship tactical communications between units during the serial and said it was her first time working with the Philippine Navy.
“It has been interesting learning how the Philippine Navy operate, which in turn has enhanced our interoperability,” Able Seaman Burrows said.
Able Seaman Tyler Hawken from Stalwart said every day was met with different challenges.
“All nations combined their focus to achieve a single outcome. My role was to build the tactical picture, which was exchanged with our counterparts and used successfully for safe transit,” Able Seaman Hawken said.
The ships participated in Exercise Sam Sama Lumbas as part of a routine regional presence deployment.