Australia Defense Forces Validate Warfighting Capabilities in FCP20

HMAS Arunta, followed by HMAS Stuart, departs Sydney Harbour for the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Certification Period 2020.

HMA Ships Stuart, Hobart, Arunta and Sirius joined the sea phase of Navy’s first major exercise for the year, Fleet Certification Period 2020 (FCP20). This iteration will be the first time a Hobart Class Destroyer has participated in an FCP.

FCP20 is a high-end warfighting exercise which will certify the participating ships and their crews ‘ready to deploy’ on behalf of the Australian Government.

The four warships will sail to Bass Strait where they will engage with five other Australian ships and submarines as well as military aircraft from Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

Commodore Flotillas (COMFLOT), Commodore Michael Harris, said FCP20 would further develop Navy’s ability to engage in complex and dynamic warfighting activities based around sea and air control capabilities.

“FCP20 will test competencies in a range of scenarios, including high-end warfighting in the blue water ocean environment, amphibious operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, similar to our recent Bushfire Assist mission,” Commodore Harris said.

Participating aircraft will include a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A, a United States Navy P-8, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K and three Royal Australian Navy MH-60R helicopters.

Australian Clearance Diving Team One will also conduct Very Shallow Water Mine Counter Measure (MCM) operations as part of the dedicated MCM Task Group deployed to north eastern Tasmania.

Commanding Officer HMAS Hobart, Commander Ryan Gaskin, said the exercise would test the platforms and personnel involved through maritime warfare serials that graduate in difficulty and complexity.

“Exercising with multiple ships, submarines and military aircraft will allow us to test our warfighting capabilities and to assess our preparedness in a challenging maritime environment,” Commander Gaskin said.

Involving more than 2000 military personnel, the sea phase of FCP20 is held in Bass Strait from 17 February to 6 March.

FCP20 will include port visits in Melbourne and Portland, Victoria and Burnie, Devonport and Launceston, Tasmania.

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The naval drills were conducted over three weeks off the coasts of Victoria and Tasmania, and tested the service’s ability to conduct warfighting operations that are centred around its Canberra-class amphibious assault ships.

The amphibious vessel that was deployed for FCP20 was first-of-class HMAS Canberra . It joined the Anzac-class frigates HMAS Stuart and HMAS Arunta , replenishment oiler HMAS Sirius , mine-countermeasure vessels HMAS Huon and HMAS Diamantina , and Collins-class submarines, HMAS Collins and HMAS Farncomb .

Collins-class Submarine

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A aircraft, a United States Navy (USN) P-8, and a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3 also took part in FCP20.

Exercises that were conducted as part of the drills included anti-submarine, and anti-air scenarios.

The service’s first-of-class air warfare destroyer (AWD), HMAS Hobart , also joined the task group to provide air-defense support operations. It was the first time that an AWD had participated in a Fleet Certification Period activity.

In comments carried by RAN official publication Navy Daily on 11 March, Commodore Flotillas, Commodore Michael Harris, described the completion of FCP20 as proof that the RAN can deploy in whatever capacity required of it from the Australian government.

“The exercise continues [the] navy’s shift from predominantly single-ship operations over the past few decades to a complex and dynamic warfighting capability based around the fleet’s amphibious ships, in this case HMAS Canberra, ” said Cdre Harris.

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