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Keeping Mariners Safe in Military Exercises

Queensland’s major trading ports will be hosting some of the world’s most powerful warships over the coming weeks with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) playing a key support role in this year’s Exercise Talisman Sabre.

An Australian Light Armoured Vehicle lands on Forrest Beach, Queensland, as part of an amphibious assault activity, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.

Regional Harbour Masters in Brisbane, Gladstone, Townsville, and Cairns are preparing to navigate the safe arrival and departure of vessels taking part in the biennial multinational military exercise.

The exercise, which runs from July 22 to August 4, involves military amphibious landings, ground force manoeuvres, air combat and maritime operations at locations across Queensland and along the coast.

MSQ has extensive experience in ensuring interactions between military, commercial and recreational shipping are conducted safely.

There are strict contingency plans and port safety plans in place for all Queensland ports for warship visits, which also occur frequently outside the exercise.

MSQ’s Ports and Reef Vessel Traffic System (VTS) will monitor and interact with commercial shipping transiting the exercise areas, as well as military shipping involved in the exercise, where appropriate.

Public interest in visiting and transiting warships is always high and MSQ will be supporting public awareness updates alongside the Australian military, Queensland Police, Port Authorities, and local councils.

This will include keeping stakeholders informed through gazetted notices, notices to mariners and social media posts.

Australian Army soldiers land on Forrest Beach, Queensland, as part of an amphibious assault activity, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.

MSQ has also produced maps, charts, and graphics to clearly define exercise areas and exclusion zones for recreational boaties.

Some of MSQ’s senior managers, including General Manager Kell Dillon, are ex-Royal Australian Navy commissioned officers and several MSQ personnel have participated as naval reservists in Talisman Sabre exercises.

It is important to ensure the exercise is conducted safely and interactions between naval and recreational vessels are totally excluded or minimised.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre is the largest bilateral training activity between Australia and the USA and is now in the tenth iteration of the biennial exercise.

“Overall, there will be about 30,000 military participants, including other foreign navy allies.

“While all eyes will be on the military exercises, it is equally important for MSQ to keep international commercial shipping running smoothly in our ports and coastal shipping channels alongside the exercise.” Said Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Kell Dillon.

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