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Five Australian Navy ships have begun practising amphibious warfare skills in the waters off Darwin as part of the minor war vessel concentration period (MWVCP) sea phase.

During the seven-day exercise, HMA Glenelg, Pirie, Bundaberg, Balikpapan and Betano will focus on collective competencies including boarding operations, tactical manoeuvring and seamanship.

Australian Navy mine warfare hydrography and patrol boat force commander Captain Vaughan Rixon said an Australian Army regiment will join the navy with a light armoured vehicle, a general motor vehicle and three Unimogs to simulate an evacuation operation.

“The activity will practise relocating non-combatants threatened in a foreign country to a place of safety,” he said.

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“Maritime interception skills will be improved through boarding operations on the merchant ship MV Sapphire Bay with aerial support provided by a navy Augusta A109E helicopter and gunnery shoots conducted against towed air targets.”

The MWVCP is part of navy’s ongoing training programme to enhance the Australian force capability and will be conducted within strict environmental, safety and risk management constraints.