US Navy rearms warship with missile at an Australian port for first time
Stars and Stripes September 9, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy recently rearmed a warship with a missile at a port in southeast Australia, a sign of its increasing logistics options Down Under.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Peralta took on an SM-2 missile for the first time at the Australian navy wharf in Eden on Aug. 22, the 7th Fleet said in a news release Thursday. The port is about 230 miles south of Sydney.
The reloaded SM-2 — an air and surface defense missile — replaced one launched July 22 during at the start of the Talisman Sabre exercise in eastern Australia, Task Force 70 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Seth Koenig told Stars and Stripes by email Friday.
“There is tremendous value in expanding the range of locations throughout the Indo-Pacific where U.S. Navy ships can rearm missiles while deployed,” the Peralta's skipper, Cmdr. Charles Cooper, said in the release. “Increasing our options for reload sites provides increased flexibility across our mission sets and operating areas. Working closely with our Australian allies, we were able to successfully demonstrate this capability at Eden.”
The Navy coordinated with the Australian Defence Force to transport and briefly store the missile ahead of the Rafael Peralta’s arrival at Eden, Koenig said. He declined, citing concern for operational security, to say where the missile originated or how the process was coordinated.
“Our U.S.-Australia team then worked together to ensure the safe transportation to Eden, where a U.S. team from Navy Munitions Command Unit East Asia Division worked with the Royal Australian Navy to prepare it for the rearm and onload it to Rafael Peralta,” he said.
After Talisman Sabre concluded Aug. 4, the Rafael Peralta, homeported at Yokosuka, remained close to Australia. It made a Sydney port call before heading to the sea phase of the Malabar exercise off Australia’s eastern coast, according to the news release.
“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with the Australians through multiple exercises and engagements over the past month,” Cooper said in the release. “It is inspiring to see how our teams have … operated as a unified force.”