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Australia to Participate in Exercise MILAN 24

HMAS Stuart makes a replenishment at sea approach alongside HMAS Warramunga while off the coast of Western Australia [ADoD: POIS Leo Baumgartner]

Australia will continue to deepen its relationships with India and like-minded regional partners this month by participating in Exercise MILAN 24.

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Press Release, Canberra, 18 February 2024: Hosted by India from 19-27 February in the port city of Visakhapatnam and the adjacent Bay of Bengal, Exercise MILAN 24 will bring together approximately 50 nations and around 20 international vessels and aircraft from across the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Felicity Favaloro marshals a Royal Australian Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter onboard HMAS Warramunga while at sea [ADoD: POIS Leo Baumgartner]

Exercise MILAN 24 is a key element in the Australian Defence Force’s first regional presence deployment for 2024 and the first large-scale multilateral exercise on the Navy’s calendar for the year. The Australian Defence Force will be represented by the Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Chris Smith, AM, CSM, RAN, and HMAS Warramunga, with an embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, which is currently conducting an Indo-Pacific regional presence deployment.

Pursuing the theme ‘Camaraderie, Cohesion, Collaboration’, Exercise MILAN 24 will feature a six-day harbour phase offering knowledge sharing, leadership engagement and a table top exercise along with a street parade and cultural exchanges. The four-day sea phase will comprise advanced maritime training including anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air warfare exercises along with large force maritime manoeuvres.

Australia’s Joint Force Maritime Component Commander, Commodore Jonathan Ley, said the exercise was important for building international relationships, professional development and for Warramunga’s crew to practise operating at sea as part of a large multilateral fleet.

“Exercise MILAN is an important biennial training activity for the Indo-Pacific region and valuable for advancing Australia’s place as an Indian Ocean neighbour,” Commodore Ley said.

“Our participation in Exercise MILAN 24 will help deepen Australia’s navy-to-navy relationship with India, provide opportunities for naval leaders to contemplate shared security challenges and enhance mutual understanding among the navies of like-minded nations.

“I am very grateful to the Indian Navy for the opportunity to again join the growing number of participants in 2024.”

MILAN 24 will be the twelfth edition of India’s biennial flagship exercise, which began with just four nations in 1995. Australia has been a participant since 2003. Australia’s participation in Exercise MILAN 2024 follows its hosting of Indian-owned Exercise Malabar for the first time in 2023, which drew together naval forces from India, Japan, the United States and Australia for exercises in Sydney and the seas off the NSW coast.

HMAS Warramunga departed for its current three-month regional presence deployment in late January and will participate in several exercises, cooperative activities and joint patrols with partner navies along with regional port visits.

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Training Proves Ship is Ready for Anything

Member of ship’s company from HMAS Warramunga conduct rigid hull inflatable boat training during the ship’s transit while on Regional Presence Deployment 24-1 [ADoD: POIS Leo Baumgartner]

Press Release, Canberra, 19 February 2024: Before HMAS Warramunga commenced Australia’s first 2024 Indo-Pacific regional presence deployment, Commanding Officer Commander Jennifer Graham put her crew through rigorous training to ensure they were ‘fully mission capable’.

Training began in earnest soon after the Anzac-class frigate sailed from its home port of Fleet Base East, Sydney, in late January, and continued while traversing heavy seas in the Great Australian Bight. After a logistics visit to Fleet Base West in HMAS Stirling provided a brief reprieve, the ship’s company was further tested in Navy’s Western Australian Exercise Area in the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coast.

Training covered all aspects of modern warship operations, from core maritime skills such as navigation, manoeuvring, man-overboard drills and small-boat operations using the ship’s two rigid hull inflatable boats, through to helicopter operations, underway replenishment, firefighting, damage control, small-arms practice, engineering incident response and warfare drills at ‘action stations’ – the ship’s highest state of alert.

After months of training and pre-departure preparations, Commander Graham said she was confident in her crew’s abilities and readiness. “Having enjoyed the Christmas and New Year break before we departed, the transit around Australia provided an ideal opportunity to bring the team back up to speed and prepare for the deployment ahead,” Commander Graham said.

Commander Graham said the crew enjoyed the chance to train with sister ship, HMAS Stuart, as it returned to sea for the first time since completing the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program. “Regardless of the mission, whenever an Australian warship leaves Australian waters it must be mission capable and ready for anything … and Warramunga certainly is,” Commander Graham said.

And the hard work has already been paying off. Since commencing the regional presence deployment, Warramunga has operated in company with United States Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force warships in the South China Sea, visited Singapore and is preparing for further engagements with regional partners in a range of maritime warfare exercises and cooperative activities.

Regional presence deployments demonstrate Australia’s commitment to, and engagement with, the region. The deployments play a vital role in Australia’s long-term security and prosperity by protecting Australia’s interests, preserving a rules-based order, enhancing cooperation and relationships with regional partners and allies, and developing capability and interoperability.

The current regional presence deployment will be completed in late April.

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