USS America Amphibious assault ship arrived in Brisbane for Talisman Sabre drills

The commander of a US Navy amphibious assault ship says he is “prepared” for attempts by other nations to seize maritime territory in the region.

The USS America docked in the Port of Brisbane on Tuesday for a three-day visit ahead of the Talisman Sabre training exercise in northern Australia involving land combat, amphibious landings and air operations.

The $A5 billion, 257-metre warship is crewed by 2000 sailors and marines and carries 20 aircraft including six F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters with vertical take-off and landing capability.

Neither the highest-ranking officers aboard the warship, US Navy Captain Shockey Snyder or Marine Corps Colonel Matthew Danner, would mention China by name during a press conference on the flight deck.

“This deployment is a routine deployment for America, it is not meant to send any message to any particular country,” Capt Synder said.

Standing in front of an insignia with the ship’s Latin motto, “Bello vel pace paratus” or “Ready for war or peace”, Capt Synder did say his ship and Col Danner’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit were trained for any crisis, from a humanitarian crisis to a combat engagement.

“Any country out there that has excessive maritime claims, that is not in accordance with international law, we would be prepared to conduct any tasking in response to that,” Capt Synder said.

The USS America is usually based in Japan and is designed to support F-35B fighters with its huge internal fuel tanks and maintenance bays, and to deploy marines via Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft and King Stallion helicopters.

Below decks, marines from Ghost Battalion – which fought its first battle against Japan in the Solomon Islands during World War II – showed off their weaponry including sniper rifles, machine guns and an M3A1 rocket launcher that can fire either smoke bombs or anti-tank warheads.

Col Danner said the Marine Corps had not noticed increased tensions and did not hope for combat but was ready for it at any time and not just in one region of the world.

“We embrace our history, we put a lot of effort into making sure the marines understand it but our specific training or our mindset is not tailored toward any given adversary,” Col Danner said.

After visiting Brisbane and Townsville, the USS America will join the 14-day Talisman Sabre exercise along with about 30,000 other military personnel from the US, Australian Defence Force and allied nations in the Pacific and Europe.

“We have a long history of partnerships with the people of Australia, we do a lot of military-to-military exercises and training with one of our closest allies here in Australia,” Capt Synder said.

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