Australia to shift its naval presence from Middle East to Asia-Pacific, China

HMAS Success (centre) conducts a replenishment at sea dry hook up with Indian Navy Ships Ranvijay (left) and Sahyadri (right) during AUSINDEX 2019. *** Local Caption *** A Task Group consisting of four ships and a submarine from the Royal Australian Navy, enhanced by a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol aircraft, are visiting India for AUSINDEX 2019, the major, bilateral Navy-to-Navy exchange between Australia and India. First held in India in 2015, this year marks the third biennial iteration of AUSINDEX, with the 2017 iteration held in Australia. AUSINDEX 2019 is the most complex iteration to date, focusing on anti-submarine warfare and tactical maritime manoeuvre. HMAS Canberra, a Canberra-Class Landing Helicopter Dock, is the flagship of the task group, and is joined by HMA Ships Success, Newcastle and Parramatta, and embarked MH-60R maritime combat helicopters and MRH-90 maritime support helicopters. The submarine, HMAS Collins, and a Royal Australian Air Force P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft have joined the Task Group for AUSINDEX. The task group is visiting India for AUSINDEX 2019 during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 which sees more than 1,200 personnel from the Australian Defence Force participating in a series of key engagement activities with Australia’s regional neighbours.


Defence News India

Amid growing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia has now announced its decision to shift its naval presence in the Middle East to Asia-Pacific and China. Quoting Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, ABC News reported that Australia will no longer send a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East every year.

Further, the country will also withdraw from the US-led naval coalition patrolling the Strait of Hormuz at the end of 2020.

“This year alone has seen [the] Navy respond to the bushfire and COVID-19 crises, a five-ship deployment throughout South-East Asia and the Pacific, a continued commitment to initiatives under the Pacific Step Up, and several highly successful activities with our regional partners,” Minister Reynolds said.

“As a result, the Australian Defence Force will reduce its naval presence in the Middle East to enable more resources to be deployed in our region,” the Minister added.

ABC News further said in its report that the shift was flagged in the government’s recent Defence Strategic Update, which declared that deteriorating strategic circumstances would force the military to focus more sharply on the Indo-Pacific and Australia’s immediate region.


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