The amphibious Exercise Sea Explorer 2022 has come to an end. This integration of sailors, soldiers and aviators strengthened the Australian amphibious force’s (AAF) capability to generate an effective ground combat element and project it ashore. Landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide provided a hub from which landing craft and aircraft operated. The exercise was held at Cowley Beach in North Queensland from May 30 to June 16, and 1400 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel took part in the ship-to-shore training. The AAF rehearsed in wet and dry environments in the exercise component called Wader, where troops trained day and night to familiarise themselves with the conduct of amphibious operations in Adelaide’s dock and on its flight deck.
Commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Force, Captain Phillipa Hay, said,” Sea Explorer 2022 was also enriched by the presence of the United States Navy’s Japan-based USS Ashland, with AAF forces embarked. USS Ashland is one of our nearest and closest coalition partners. Together, we have demonstrated our ability to interchange and operate as a cohesive force to develop and deliver an amphibious effect. The AAF is now certified to deploy on Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Defence’s premier deployment into the region and beyond, where we will be enhancing our interoperability and relationships with key partners and friends in the region.”
Australian Army liaison officer Captain Jonathan Unicomb, from the ground combat element, said,”Exercises like Sea Explorer provided learning opportunities for personnel from each service to better understand the capabilities each brought to amphibious operations and how they could best integrate to achieve whatever mission was required. The Royal Australian Navy plays an important role for the ground combat element — without them, we wouldn’t be able to get Army vehicles, equipment and personnel to the shore to conduct operations on land.”
A range of military vehicles and equipment landed ashore on Sea Explorer 2022, including M777 Howitzer artillery pieces, all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and Tiger armed reconnaissance and CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters. In a first, two Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) also landed ashore. Working as part of the AAF could enable the six-wheeled CRV to deploy around Australia and potentially around the globe. The Boxer disembarked from HMAS Adelaide by way of lighter landing craft to conduct Wader, rehearsing ship-to-shore movements, enabling us to be certified to conduct a live-fire exercise in Exercise Sea Raider later this year. Training now will be intensified for Exercise Sea Raider, where a larger joint maritime and land force will face increased complexities and greater challenges in contested environments.