New UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed the Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland will visit Australia in the New Year as part of her Asia Pacific deployment.
While addressing the crew onboard in Devonport last Friday, the Defence Secretary announced the ship would sail to the Asia Pacific to exercise with the Royal Australian Navy, visit Australian ports and showcase the vessel's anti-submarine warfare technology.
During recent conversations with Defence Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne, Secretary Williamson reaffirmed his commitment to strengthening the Australia-UK defence relationship and exploring opportunities for the two Armed Forces to work together.
“Our countries have fought alongside one another since the First World War and we continue to stand strong in the face of today’s intensifying global threats; I am pleased to announce that HMS Sutherland will set sail across the world next year and look forward to strengthening our close relationship with Australia.”
The ship will visit Sydney, Perth and Adelaide and engage and engage with the RAN during joint and regional exercises. The British will be keen to show off the Sonar 2087 towed array ASW system, also earmarked for the Type 26 ASW frigates which BAE System is proposing for Australia's Sea 5000 Future Frigate program.
Australia and the UK have forged closer defence ties in recent years; Minister Pyne was recently in the UK spruiking Australian defence industry and this week UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is in the country to advance the UK/Australia trade relationship, following a visit from UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin earlier this month.
In August this year both countries’ Foreign and Defence Ministers strengthened the already close relationship in the 9th annual Australia-UK Ministerial talks (AUKMIN), agreeing on further joint work on cyber, Commonwealth and modern slavery.
While in the country earlier in the month, Defence Procurement Minister Harriett Baldwin announced the intention to look at the feasibility of fitting the Australian CEAFAR radar on future British warships. A capability study to fit the radar to British ships will begin early next year