Naval forces from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.S. unite to conduct multilateral, multinational exercise ANNUALEX in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 21-30. Five international navies, to include the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), German Navy (GMN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and U.S. Navy, will engage in various events to include enhanced maritime communication tactics, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations and maritime interdiction maneuvers. ANNUALEX is a yearly naval training event led by JMSDF. Naval forces from around the world are invited to participate in the event in an effort to strengthen enduring relationships while sharpening naval proficiencies at all levels. The 2021 iteration of ANNUALEX will take place in the Philippine Sea, off the southern coast of Japan.
“The Royal Australian Navy has enjoyed multiple opportunities throughout this year to work with Canada, Japan, Germany and the United States, building our navy-to-navy skills and forging professional ties”, said Cmdr. Aaron Cox, commanding officer, Hobart-class destroyer HMAS Brisbane. “This robust program of engagement has prepared us well for ANNUALEX as a test of our interoperability.”
“The U.S. Navy is honored to be invited to participate once again,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1. “ANNUALEX presents an opportunity to strategically coordinate, collaborate and further strengthen our network of partnerships and alliances, enabling us to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent combined force capable of quickly projecting power, where and when needed.”
“Many naval forces (United States, Australia, Canada and firstly Germany) will join this JMSDF exercise. I’m very proud to participate in the exercise as a commander of surface forces,” said Rear Adm. Komuta Shukaku, commander, Escort Flotilla 1. “We will strengthen the cooperation among those navies through this high-end tactical exercise.”
“The invitation to Japan-led ANNUALEX 2021 represents the operational highlight of FGS Bayern’s deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. Being the first German warship in nearly two decades to sail these seas, it is an enormous honor of having the opportunity to exercise with our partner navies within such an impressive maritime force,” said Cmdr. Tilo Kalski, commanding officer, German Navy’s FGS Bayern.
“The Royal Canadian Navy is proud to be part of this significant exercise that serves to enhance interoperability and integration among allied and partner nations”, said Cmdr. Doug Layton, captain, HMCS Winnipeg. “Our combined efforts during ANNUALEX help to build confidence in operating with one another and maintain the highest levels of readiness between like-minded navies.”
“The German navy will strengthen its commitment to the region through deeper security and defense cooperation with regional partners,” said Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach, chief, German Navy. “Germany would seek to send a frigate every two years to the Indo-Pacific region with a supply ship.”
Participating naval forces will operate in a complex maritime environment with integrated surface and air engagements designed to further increase collective war-fighting readiness, maritime superiority, and power projection in the Indo-Pacific. While coordinated maritime engagements with international partners are part of routine presence operations for many navies throughout the Indo-Pacific, ANNUALEX 2021 marks the first time in 20 years that the Germany Navy is participating in maritime exercises in the region. Every year, JMSDF leads ANNUALEX and provides partner and ally navies an opportunity to return and build upon existing combat interoperability capabilities to enhance readiness across all platforms as a deterrent against regional instability and aggression. Since arriving in the U.S. 7th Fleet region in early September, CSG 1 units have participated in multiple operations and exercises to include Malabar 2021, and several multi-carrier, multi-nation operations, including the recent Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) 2021.
Led by CSG 1, U.S. Navy units participating in ANNUALEX include aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57); Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1; Henry J. Kaiser-class Fleet replenishment ship USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194); and nine squadrons of embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2. CVW-2 consists of an F-35C squadron, the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147; three F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons, the “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2, the “Stingers” of VFA-113, and the “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192; the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, operating the EA-18G Growler; the “Black Eagles” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 113, operating the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye; the “Titans” of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, operating the CMV-22B Osprey; the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, operating the MH-60S Sea Hawk; and the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, operating the MH-60R Sea Hawk. CSG 1 is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.