The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has begun one of its largest maritime warfare activities, Exercise Ocean Raider, at locations off the coast of New South Wales, Australia.

Held for the first time, Exercise Ocean Raider will involve 11 warships and submarines, aircraft, and more than 1,500 personnel from Australia and the US.

Conducted together with the Royal Australian Air Force-led East Coast Air Defence Exercise, the drill is aimed at promoting and deploying self-supported, sustainable maritime task groups by 2018.

"The navy is shifting from a unit level to a force level approach to the generation of naval forces."

Australian Fleet commander rear admiral Stuart Mayer said: “In the past, navy has achieved operational commitments directed by government by preparing individual ships, submarines, aircraft or specialist teams for employment as part of a larger coalition or to conduct smaller, unit level tasks.

“This unit-based approach is no longer sufficient. Navy is shifting from a unit level to a force level approach to the generation of naval forces.

“Exercise Ocean Raider will assist in this transition, by training our units to conduct the full range of maritime operations in a task group.”

During the first two weeks of the exercise, warships, submarines and aircraft, including F/A-18s, will conduct defence and anti-submarine warfare missions.

The exercise will also see the navy’s mine clearance divers, Clearance Diving Team One, and mine hunting vessels HMA ships Gascoyne and Huon train in mine countermeasure procedures in Broken Bay.

Image: HMA Ships Melbourne and Parramatta leave Sydney Harbour to participate in Exercise Ocean Raider. Photo: courtesy of ABIS Bonny Gassner / Royal Australian Navy.