Today I completed my visit to Honolulu, Hawaii, where I met with senior United States military officials at United States Pacific Command and observed Australia’s participation in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012.
During my visit I met with Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, Commander, United States Pacific Command and the component commanders of the United States Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps in the Pacific.
We discussed the enhanced practical cooperation between Australia and the United States, following on from the cooperative force posture initiatives announced by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama in November 2011.
We agreed that, as the United States shifts its strategic focus towards the Asia Pacific, it is important we continue to seek out opportunities to work with regional partners to build cooperation and capacity in the region.
I also met with academics from the East-West Center, the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies and the Pacific Forum Center for International and Strategic Studies, for discussions on regional security trends, global strategic developments and bilateral Australia-United States relations.
During the trip, I had an opportunity to visit HMAS Darwin and USS Nimitz to meet with Australian personnel participating in Exercise RIMPAC 2012. RIMPAC is a biennial combined exercise involving forces from 22 nations including Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, the UK and the USA. This year's exercise also saw Russia participate for the first time.
Australia is providing a major contribution to this exercise, including approximately 1100 personnel, two ships, a submarine, two AP-3C maritime patrol aircraft, and a Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, with Australia also leading the maritime component of this year's exercise.
The Seahawk and crew from 816 Squadron in Nowra, working from HMAS Darwin, successfully took part in RIMPAC’s bio-fuel trial to test, helping evaluate and demonstrate the crossfunctionality of bio-fuels.
HMA Ships Darwin and Perth participated in live firings of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSMs) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
The Collins class submarine HMAS Farncomb conducted a successful sinking exercise against the former USNS Kilauea.
150 members of Townsville's 3rd Brigade worked closely with US Marines on enhancing joint amphibious planning and interoperability.
Two AP-3C Orion aircraft coordinated closely with surface and ground partners to help detect and monitor surface and sub-surface targets in a highly realistic environment.
The skill, dedication, and professionalism of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force Members participating in RIMPAC has been rightly commended by other participants in the exercise.
On behalf of the Government, I join our partners in praising the fine work of Australian Defence Force personnel deployed here as part of RIMPAC.
I welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and the United States to work together on bio-fuels. Australia is the first nation to join the United States in this innovative and worthwhile research.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I also laid a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, to commemorate the sacrifice of United States servicemen and servicewomen who have laid down their lives for their country in the interests of peace and stability in our region, and to reflect the importance of the Australia-US Alliance, which has served us well for more than sixty years.
Mr Smith's Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999