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Sep 21, 2021 / 11:51

Australia, Vietnam navies boost maritime security cooperation

Defense and security cooperation is one of three priority areas in the Plan of Action for the Strategic Partnership in 2020-2023.

Australian and Vietnamese navies will engage in a series of activities, including maritime training in the waters off Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay in a four-day port call starting Sept. 20 paid by Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 (IPE21) Task Group.

 Commodore Mal Wise, Commander Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021, along with Commanding Officers of HMAS Canberra, HMAS Anzac, HMAS Sirius, and members of his staff, are formally welcomed upon the arrival of the Task Group in Cam Ranh Bay. Photos: Embassy of Australia in Hanoi

The Task Group comprises three Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessels and approximately 700 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. Indo-Pacific Endeavour is Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity, with the Task Group including personnel from all ADF services, Australian government agencies, as well as naval personnel from partner nations, according to the Embassy of Australia in Hanoi.

Other activities in Vietnam include virtual exchanges on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations; gender, peace, and security; maritime security cooperation; and maritime training activities focusing on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES); a linkup between young ADF officers and cadets from the Vietnam Naval Academy.

Amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra, guided-missile frigate HMAS Anzac, and fleet replenishment oiler HMAS Sirius arrived in Cam Ranh International Port as guests of Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense. The IPE21 Task Group was warmly welcomed on arrival by senior officers of Naval Region 4, Military Region 5, and the Border Guards, and representatives of the Australian Embassy.

IPE21 is the first visit by RAN ships since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commander IPE21 Commodore Mal Wise, who has served in the Royal Australian Navy for 36 years, said that the ability of Vietnam to host the Task Group during the Covid-19 pandemic was a demonstration of the depth of the Vietnam-Australia bilateral defense relationship.

He remarked: “Indo-Pacific Endeavour provides a unique opportunity for us to deepen our practical naval cooperation, building on previous RAN ship visits to Vietnam, and is a good chance for us to exchange lessons learned on maritime security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, and gender, peace, and security. Vietnam’s commitment to host the Task Group during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates both of our nation's commitment to a secure, prosperous, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

IPE21 is a whole-of-government international engagement activity centered on an Australian Maritime Task Group. The activity is scheduled for the South East Asian region in the second half of 2021.

IPE21 encompasses a wide range of activities, spanning disaster assistance planning, multinational naval maneuvers, and military training serials with regional partners in Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia. The activities are designed to foster greater understanding and interoperability between security personnel throughout the region in a Covid-19 safe manner.

Defense is a strong pillar in the Australia-Vietnam Strategic Partnership. The defense ties also include high-level visits and dialogues, professional military and post-graduate education, peacekeeping cooperation, maritime security engagement, and counter-terrorism cooperation.

 Guided-missile frigate HMAS Anzac (150), fleet replenishment oiler HMAS Sirius (266), an amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra (L02), berthed in Cam Ranh Bay as part of their Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 port visit.

Bilateral defense ties

Formal defense relations between Australia and Vietnam were established in February 1998, with the opening of a Defense Attaché Office at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi in 1999. Vietnam’s first Defense Attaché to Australia commenced in September 2000, according to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Their defense cooperation program focuses on peacekeeping, including cooperation on Women Peace and Security and support for Vietnam’s deployment to the UN Mission to South Sudan; training and education, including English language training; counter-terrorism cooperation; maritime security, including annual ship visits; and military medicine. Australia also cooperates closely with Vietnam in the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.

The defense relations were bolstered with a Joint Vision Statement on Further Defense Cooperation inked on March 15, 2018. Deepening defense and security cooperation became one of three priority areas together with enhancing economic engagement and building knowledge and innovation partnerships in the Plan of Action for the Strategic Partnership for 2020-2023.

 Guided-missile frigate HMAS Anzac Enters Cam Ranh Bay as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 port visit.