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U.S., Australian ships meet for Pacific exercises near California

An embarked helicopter of the USS John Finn lands on the deck of the HMAS Sydney during a Group Sail exercise of U.S. and Australian ships. Photo courtesy of HMAS Sydney/Facebook
An embarked helicopter of the USS John Finn lands on the deck of the HMAS Sydney during a Group Sail exercise of U.S. and Australian ships. Photo courtesy of HMAS Sydney/Facebook

April 2 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy destroyer and a Royal Australian Navy destroyer took part in a Group Sail exercise this week, the US. Navy announced on Friday.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn and Australia's Hobart-class air warfare destroyer HMAS Sydney met for two days of exercises off the Southern California coast.

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The exercises served to enhance "U.S.-Australian planning and communication abilities, and improving complex maritime operations efficiency and effectiveness," a U.S. Navy press release said.

Group Sail activities are designed to improve partnerships, and combine lethality and interoperability exercises.

It was the first deployment for the Australian ship, commissioned in 2020 as the last of three Hobart-class, Australian-built destroyers. Prior to the exercise, the USS John Finn was an element of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.

"HMAS Sydney's deployment to the southern Californian range area is the culmination of many years of hard work by everyone involved in the DDG project in Australia and the United States," Cmdr. Ted Seymour, the Sydney's commanding officer, said in the release.

"Separately, for Sydney this is our first deployment, and noting the cooperation between our navies in the Indo-Pacific, it is very fitting that Sydney's first passage exercise is with a U.S. warship," said Seymour.

The Australian ship, which, like the USS John Finn, carries AEGIS ballistic missiles, left its home port of Fleet Base East, Australia, on March 11 to conduct combat systems sea qualifications trials, including a milestone test of its AEGIS system.

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