In the late morning of August 14, onboard HMAS Kuttabul just off the pier aft of HMAS Supply (A195), two specialist teams prepared for the adrenaline rush of working together below sea level.

The United States Navy (USN) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team checked their air tanks while Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Clearance Dive Team readied their air cylinders. In minutes, the two teams – dressed in their black wetsuits – donned the rest of their gear and were ready for the mission at hand. The teams were ready and prepared to speak their shared language of breathing underwater with their diving fins prepped by the back deck of the boat.

Both teams commenced in sync with their rapid but strategic preparation for the underwater dive when they received the signal to begin. The teams worked together in the joint exercise to identify, disable, and remove the simulated device as they descended into depths measured by meters and feet. The familiarization underwater begins during this process.

The preparation and experience from both teams provides the ability to learn from each other and work together during dive-specific sorties in Exercise Malabar 2023.

This exercise provides opportunities for subject matter experts from participating countries to collaborate and exchange information to prepare for warfighting readiness in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This exercise is important because it allows us the opportunity to see the differences and similarities in the way we conduct missions and how interoperability can occur between forces”, said U.S. Navy Lt. Jamison Ware, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Platoon 522 Commander. “Both teams have very similar capabilities, so it makes for fluid coordination.”

The mission of the diving exercise was to ensure that both navies can effectively work together to eliminate potential and imminent threats in the Indo-Pacific region.

The cohesion and interchangeability between both teams is not foreign to them as this is not the first time both navies have worked together.

“We just came back from RIMPAC last year where we did a lot of diving and hull searching with the U.S. Navy,” stated Chief Clearance Diver Joshua Drennan from RAN Maritime EODMU One. “Exercises like this are important to make sure we’ve got the most up-to-date and current standard procedure to make sure that we can all work together for interoperability.”

Coordination is not only important for tasks focused on the mission, but it is also important for relationship-building gatherings to build comradery and friendship. Shared meals on the dive boat served as an informal opportunity for the teams to communicate and connect with one another on a personal level between diving sorties.

This iteration of Malabar is the first year with Australia as the host country. Malabar 23 is a surface, air, and subsurface multilateral field training exercise conducted with RAN, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and USN that enhances interoperability and strengthens ties and critical partnerships between the maritime forces and demonstrates the countries commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.

Platoon 522 is from USN EODMU 5 under Command Task Force (CTF) 75. Platoon 522 is currently assigned as Command Task Unit 70.0.9 under CTF 70.