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The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has conducted naval exercise with the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) in Zhanjiang, China.

Performed during a post visit of HMA Ships Stuart and Arunta, the combined exercise included joint search and rescue training, tactical evolutions, communications drills, and a live fire activity.

The event also included planning sessions for the exercise, official functions with local dignitaries, sporting activities, discussions on the code for unplanned encounters at sea, and other mariner skills training.

According to navy chief vice-admiral Tim Barrett, the professional and cultural exchanges are aimed to strengthen Australia’s defence ties with China.

"The conduct of these activities between navies is fundamental in developing our understanding and cooperation between the RAN and the PLA-N."

Barrett said: "The conduct of these activities between navies is the oldest form of international diplomacy and is fundamental in developing our understanding and cooperation between the RAN and the PLA-N."

The latest visit to China is part of the RAN’s routine regional engagement activities in both North and South East Asia.

The deployment, which involves the HMA ships Stuart, Arunta and Sirius, includes exercises and port visits to the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The RAN ships have made visits to China in 2010, 2012 and 2014, while HMAS Warramunga conducted the first live fire activity between the RAN and the PLA-N in 2010.

In September, India and Australia completed the first bilateral maritime exercise, Ausindex15, at Visakhapatnam in India.

The latest exercise, which was aimed at strengthening the defence co-operation between the countries, was part of the framework for security cooperation announced by the Australian and Indian Prime Ministers in 2014.

Image: HMAS Arunta and Stuart conducted a man overboard exercise and gunnery serials with PLA-N Ship Yuncheng after completing a port visit to Zhanjiang, China. Photo: © Royal Australian Navy.