Chaplains in Talisman Saber 13


From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs


CAIRNS, Australia – 20,000 US and 8,000 Australian forces participated in the major biennial exercise Talisman Sabre 13 (TS13).  While Chaplains have accompanied their units in past exercises, in this iteration they were fully integrated in the exercise program.


This was clearly evident as one observed the working of the combined joint task force staff, embarked in USS BLUE RIDGE, where both Senior Chaplain Collin Acton, RAN and CAPT John Shimotsu, USN served along with RPCS(SW) Tshombe Harris. Their five months of preparation and planning yielded noteworthy results over the ten days of the exercise.


Together and in concert with members of various staff working groups they negotiated a wide variety of challenging and realistic scenarios. Their grasp of similarities and differences in policy and procedures between the militaries of the United States and Australia helped them coordinate ministry across the combined joint force.  It also provided an opportunity to see how chaplains relate to other staff elements and non-governmental organizations in a combined force construct.

This dynamic was replicated across the component commands in Queensland, Australia as well as Hawaii, and Washington State in the United States.  The result is that military chaplains of both our nations are better equipped to work more effectively together at all levels of command to meet the religious needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

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Aussie Ship Commands Surface Action Group in Pacific Bond

By Lt. Grant McDuling, HMAS Sydney Public Affairs

HMAS SYDNEY, At sea — The Australian guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney took command of a Surface Action Group (SAG) to include USS Preble (DDG 88) during tri-lateral naval exercises in the Western Pacific Ocean off the Marianas Island chain, June 24.

According to HMAS Sydney’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Karl Brinckmann, this phase of exercise Pacific bond saw two SAGs, each comprising two major warships and their embarked helicopters, pitted against each other.

“We were paired up with the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Preble [with] our task being to get within range of our target and fire our missiles. The other group’s task was to locate us before we had time to fire and escort us away from the target without having the chance to fire,” said Brinckmann.

HMAS Sydney’s exchange anti-submarine warfare officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Bannister, Royal Navy agrees.

“We maximized our teamwork and all the lessons we have learned so far during this deployment and were able to stay undetected for an hour and a half,” said Bannister. “Through skilled determination and superior knowledge we located the opposing group and were able to adjust our position accordingly to ensure we remained undetected for a lengthy period of time. We were also able to put them off guard when they finally did challenge us, by being belligerent in our responses.”

Brinckmann said he was extremely happy with the way his Surface Action Group performed during the exercise.

“Exercises such as this are about interacting with our allies and improving our ability to operate with one another.”

“Pacific Bond was a resounding success,” said Cmdr. Kurt Sellerberg, commanding officer of Preble.  “We were really able to train on and refine the strong interoperability between our partner navies through extensive maneuvering, warfare area training and personnel exchange opportunities. The coordination in execution across multiple domains highlights our continued partnerships through the SAG vs. SAG event with JS Murasame and HMAS Sydney. I look forward to operating with them in the future.”


Pacific Bond is a multi-national naval exercise designed to advance participating nations’ military-to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multi-warfare environment.

HMAS Sydney is currently embedded in George Washington Carrier Strike Group that is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The ship sailed from her home port of Fleet Base East, in Sydney, Australia April 22 and will be away for about 5 months.

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Pacific Partnership 2013 Mission in Tonga Comes To a Close

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga – Pacific Partnership 2013 concluded its 10-day mission in the Kingdom of Tonga, June 22.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Capt. Darryn Webb, Pacific Partnership 2013 deputy mission commander, said the missions preformed at the port were exceptionally successful.

“It went tremendously well. I think there was an enormous level of enthusiasm and desire from everybody involved to make sure we got the job done,” said Webb. “I’ve visited many primary schools and the children don’t have much,” said Webb. “But that shows you that you don’t need much in life and they have a strong sense of community, spirit and family.”

While there, the mission treated 5,455 patients, evaluated 3,000 animals, conducted 25 donation events and completed eight engineering construction projects, including renovating schools, restrooms and water catchment systems all in the name of improving the collective ability to provide disaster relief assistance.

Additionally, medical, nursing and dental subject matter experts held conferences to exchange information with Tongan healthcare providers about various aspects of patient care.

“We reached out to a variety of Tongan organizations to share our expertise.” Jennifer Villalta, team leader for the University of California, San Diego Pre-Dentistry Society. “We had almost 20 dentists, dental therapists and technicians lecturing about things from basic extractions to forensic dentistry.”

One of unique aspects of the Tongan mission was the installation of two water catchment systems designed to mitigate any interruptions in the country’s supply of fresh water.

“Purpose of the water systems is to ensure the ability of Tongans to retain water in case the city water goes out, gets interrupted by a natural disaster or is contaminated,” said Kaela Mattson, an engineer with the University of California, San Diego. “If you have separate catchment systems that are able to contain a certain amount of water, it increases the likelihood that the community will be able to recover after a natural disaster.”

Now in its eighth year, Pacific Partnership originated from the international response to the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia.

Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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USS Freedom Supports Marine Amphibious Assault Force in CARAT Malaysia

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

USS FREEDOM, At Sea (June 21, 2013) – Sailors aboard USS Freedom (LCS 1) had an unique opportunity to support amphibious assault exercise when Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the forward deployed amphibious dock landing ship (LSD 46) USS Tortuga conducted an amphibious raid with Malaysian Army paratroopers, June 22. Freedom and Tortuga are in Malaysia participating in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2013.

Sailors assigned to Freedom’s surface warfare mission package acted as safety observers from the ship’s 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), while the embarked crew of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 provided aerial support with Freedom’s MH-60R helicopter. With its shallow draft, Freedom was able to anchor closer to the beach than other units and monitor the landing events.

“It was a good proof of concept for LCS and the squadron of the capabilities we could provide to the mission,” said Lt. Mike Roselli, attached to HSM 73. “The Romeo was able to provide maritime support to the amphibious force. We could if needed provide Hellfire [missiles], torpedoes or a Search and Rescue swimmer.”

With just 91 Sailors on board, the Freedom crew routinely supports more than one evolution a day. CARAT Malaysia was another opportunity for these Sailors to show their dedication and drive.

“I was on the picket boat that provided security for the ship,” Engineman 3rd Class Jennifer Ordenana. “Since CARAT started, I’ve been part of multiple exercises with both the engineering department and VBSS – from refueling the helo in the pump room to being a small boat engineer on an 11-meter RHIB. It’s been cool.”

CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Continuing through June 23, CARAT Malaysia 2013 consists of ten days of shore-based and at-sea training events designed to address shared maritime security concerns, develop relationships, and enhance interoperability among participating forces. Participation in the CARAT exercise series is among the key milestones during Freedom’s maiden rotational deployment to Southeast Asia.

Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surfaces warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Home ported in San Diego, Freedom is currently on its maiden deployment and is manned by her “Gold” crew. Midway through the deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew.

More than 1,200 U.S. Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Malaysia 2013. Additional ships in CARAT Task Group 73.1 are the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) with embarked Destroyer Squadron 7 staff, the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) with embarked USMC Landing Force, and the diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) with embarked Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (MUDSU).

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Joint Navies Kickoff Pacific Bond Exercise

From Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN – U.S. Navy joined forces with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to participate in a tri-lateral exercise, Pacific bond 2013, June 22-26.

Pacific Bond is a multi-national naval exercise designed to advance participating nations’ military-to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multi-warfare environment.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with our Royal Australian Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force counterparts,” said Capt. Paul Lyons, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. “As we continue to execute our strategic pivot to Asia as a nation, strong relationships and proven interoperability between our navies at the tactical level of execution will be even more vital in underwriting peace, security and stability in the region as well as preserving the national interests of the U.S. and our allies and partners.”

Pacific Bond events include anti-submarine warfare exercises, anti-air warfare exercises, a helicopter visits, board, search and seizure exercise, and liaison officer exchanges.

“Pacific Bond is about conducting quality multi-national maritime warfare maneuvers, with this year’s exercise having a heavy focus on anti-submarine warfare,” said Cmdr. Karl Brinckmann, HMAS Sydney’s commanding officer. “One of the consistent highlights of the Pacific Bond series of exercises is the exchange of personnel between navies, and this year it is no exception with personnel exchanges between Sydney, JS Murasame and USS Preble. It doesn’t get much better than operating with modern warships from two extremely professional navies.”

Exercises like this are routine and demonstrate the continuum of training necessary to achieve greater levels of proficiency in complex mission areas.   They enhance participating nations’ ability to conduct multinational operations in-stride with little prior coordination.  This is imperative to meeting and flexing to the demands of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“The purpose of our participation in this exercise is to improve our skills and to deepen our interoperability by conducting training together with the U.S. and Australian navies,” said Capt. Hiroyuki Izumi, commander, Escort Division 1 of Murasame. “Conducting this tri-lateral exercise with the naval forces of Japan, the U.S. and Australia, all of whom have high operational skills and sophisticated equipment, is an excellent opportunity for improving JMSDF tactical skills.  Through this exercise, we can make the relationship among our three nations even stronger.  We would like to take every opportunity to continue these tri-lateral exercises.”

Participants in Pacific Bond 2013 include the guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93); members of the forward deployed Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15; P-3C aircraft from Commander, Task Force 72; one submarine from Commander, Task Force 74; helicopters and personnel from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 and personnel from Naval Special Warfare Unit (NSWU) 1 joined forces with Royal Australian Navy guided-missile frigate HMAS Sydney’s (FFG 03) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship, JS Murasame (DD 101).

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Pacific Partnership 2013 Hosts Nursing Conference

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tim D. Godbee

VAIOLA, Tonga – Pacific Partnership 2013 Non-governmental organization volunteers, U.S. and partner nation service members held a nursing conference at the Vailoa Hospital, June 20.

During the conference, Pacific Partnership personnel trained nursing students and teachers on proper cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques, mass casualty response, and disaster preparedness.

“We’re teaching basic life support to teachers so that they can walk away confident when they teach other people how to do it,” said New Zealand Army Sgt. Richard Gaill. “From here they’ll finish their training and part this knowledge with people from their community.”

Tilema Cama, principal of the Vailoa School of Nursing, said the training is critical to the intuition’s teaching certification.

“We have requirements to meet in order to accredit our program every year that include for the teachers to be certified CPR practitioners,” said Cama. “When the Pacific Partnership team came around we identified this as one of the key things that we needed and they agreed to support it.”

In addition to medical certifications, Pacific Partnership personnel also held presentations on natural disaster response and preparedness. U.S. Army Capt Linda Jones said that the training correlated well with the students and teachers because of their personal experiences with recent natural disasters in Tonga.

“The emotion was very high in the room. The island is so small that the nurses that go out and help the injured during disasters are often helping people that they know and love,” said Jones. “A lot of them come home and see family and friends that they’ve had to rescue from disasters so they often experience post-traumatic stress so we discussed methods of caring for themselves and others simultaneously.”

Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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Allied Navies to Participate in Pacific Bond 2013

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN – Naval personnel and units from Australia, Japan, and the United States will participate in the tri-lateral Pacific Bond 2013 exercise from June 22-26, 2013.

First held in 2012, Pacific Bond is a multinational naval exercise and is the latest in a continuing series of exercises conducted to advance multinational maritime relationships and mutual security issues. Conducted in the western Pacific Ocean, in the vicinity of the Marianas Island chain, it is designed to advance participating nations’ military -to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multinational environment.

The overarching goal of the exercise is to enhance the compatibility of the participating maritime forces in support of our mutual desire to improve maritime security in the global commons.

Scheduled participants from the U.S. Navy participants include the guided missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 89); members of the forward deployed Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15; one P-3C aircraft; one submarine; helicopters and personnel from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 and personnel from Naval Special Warfare Unit (NSWU) 1.

For information on the planned participation of units from the Royal Australian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, please contact the Australian or Japanese Ministries of Defense, respectively.

For information regarding U.S. Navy participation, contact U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Marks at 7th Fleet Public Affairs, Comm: (808) 653-2152, or by e-mail: Photographs and news stories will also be available on the U.S. 7th fleet website at and

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