CORAL SEA (July 27, 2021) – USS America (LHA 6), the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, conducted a bilateral fueling-at-sea with HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) in the Coral Sea July 27 while participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre 21.
America and Ballarat are two of 20 ships from four countries participating in the two-week maritime portion of TS21, which is a biennial, bilateral exercise reinforcing the U.S.-Australian alliance while bringing together multinational partners to strengthen relationships.
“This evolution demonstrates the strong partnership between our two navies and our commitment to operating together in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7. “To the crews of Ballarat and America, job well done with this seamlessly executed and environmentally safe refueling at sea.”
Replenishment-at-sea – receiving fuel and supplies from ships of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command – is something America does regularly, but this FAS further demonstrates America’s ability to sustain other U.S. and partner-nation ships in company, which enhances interoperability and enables a flexible joint force.
“Fueling at sea with Ballarat was an evolution America was eagerly anticipating during the bilateral training we were slated to conduct as part of this year’s Talisman Sabre,” said Capt. Ken Ward, America’s commanding officer. “Having the opportunity to flex some deployed sustainment muscle with our Australian partners while exercising this key strategic capability was a highlight of the great interaction and training we have been able to conduct during this year’s exercise.”
America, USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) comprise the America Amphibious Ready Group as part of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan. These ships embark elements of the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed crisis-response force.
The America ARG-MEU “blue-green team” and the guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, are the U.S. Navy combatant complement to TS21, accounting for almost 5,000 of the nearly 17,000 participants across seven nations this year. MSC ships USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3), USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE 6) and USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) provided fuel and cargo support.
Along with Ballarat, Australian participants this year included HMAS Canberra (L 02), HMAS Brisbane (D 41), HMAS Parramatta (FFH 154), HMAS Choules (L 100), HMAS Diamantina (M 86), (HMAS Melville (A 246), and the submarines HMAS Collins (SSG 73) and HMAS Rankin (SSG 78). The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Calgary (FFH 335), the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s JS Makinami (DD 112), and the Republic of Korea Navy’s ROKS Wang Geon (DDH 978) also participated in TS21.
Together, the forward-deployed ships of PHIBRON 11 and elements of the 31st MEU are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.