U.S., Australia conduct anti-submarine exercise in Guam

U.S., Australia conduct anti-submarine exercise in Guam

The Associated Press

The U.S. and Australian militaries are joining for an annual anti-submarine exercise focused on ensuring freedom of navigation and the “free flow of commerce in the region.”

The 2019 Exercise Sea Dragon began in mid-January 2019 at Andersen Air Force Base in the western-most U.S. territory of Guam, which is considered a tempting target for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or North Korea in the event of a conflict. Slated to run 11 days, the exercise is “an exciting opportunity to … focus on building anti-submarine warfare proficiency and increase warfighting lethality,” Capt. Brian Erickson, commander of Task Force 72, was quoted as saying in a 7th Fleet news release.

“Exercise Sea Dragon illustrates that the U.S. and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” the 7th Fleet said.

(Pictured: Capt. Brian Erickson, commander of Task Force 72, right center, poses in formation with Exercise Sea Dragon leadership from the U.S., Australia and the Republic of Korea at the commencement of Exercise Sea Dragon in January 2019.)

Freedom of navigation operations are a key point of contention in the South China Sea, where the U.S. says it will sail and fly wherever international law allows. The PRC interprets international law differently, and calls such missions dangerous and destabilizing, regularly dispatching aircraft and ships in response to them.

Units from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will join U.S. units throughout the exercise.

Four U.S. and one RAAF P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft will be conducting flight operations with support from a mobile tactical operations center during the exercise. They will work against simulated and live targets, including a Los Angeles-class attack submarine.