The ADF has deployed two Royal Australian Navy vessels for its biennial Indo-Pacific regional engagement activity.
HMA Ships Canberra and ANZAC departed Darwin as IPE21 Task Group on August 27 for a three-month deployment to southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, and were observed on a tracking app transiting north through the Straits of Malacca near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on September 2.
In a media release, Chief of Joint Operations LTGEN Greg Bilton said the deployment reinforced Australia’s strong and enduring partnerships in Southeast Asia. “The 2020 Defence Strategic Update underlines Australia’s commitment to security, cooperation and partnerships in our immediate region,” he said.
“Indo-Pacific Endeavour delivers on this commitment,” he added. “It is a powerful way for the ADF to demonstrate Australia’s support for a peaceful, inclusive and resilient region. The ADF has found ways to continue its regular schedule of regional outreach, cooperative training and information sharing, despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19.”
Commander of the IPE21 Task Group, CDRE Mal Wise said while the deployment would remain contactless, the opportunities to conduct engagements were meaningful. “I look forward to leading this task group, working with our partners and building a foundation for future mutually supportive activities when the pandemic eases,” he said.
“We value this opportunity to work with our friends and partners in the region to enhance our interoperability, improve our coordination, and reinforce our shared commitment to a stable region,” CDRE Wise added. “We also look forward to providing a platform to exchange views on important regional issues such as maritime security, gender, peace and security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”
Previous Indo-Pacific Endeavour deployments have involved three or more ships, with submarines and RAAF aircraft joining the task group at various times for exercises or engagement activities.