USS Hopper (DDG 70) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jon Dasbach)

DARWIN, Australia - The 13th iteration of the multinational maritime exercise Kakadu 2016 began with an opening ceremony Sept. 12 in Darwin, Australia.

Exercise Kakadu is the Royal Australian Navy's premier exercise and provides an opportunity for regional nations to participate in multinational maritime activities from humanitarian assistance and search and rescue operations to high-end maritime warfare scenarios. 2016 is the largest iteration of the exercise in more than 20 years as 19 ships and submarines, 18 aircraft and more than 3000 personnel will participate.

"Kakadu is a great venue for navies from throughout the world to work together in a multinational training environment to address shared maritime concerns," said Capt. H. B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "This year's exercise continues the trend of conducting more multinational maritime exercises in the region, and the training scenarios planned for 2016 will go a long way in increasing the interoperability of all navies participating."

During the sea phase of Kakadu, ships and aircraft from nine navies will train together in several complex war-fighting scenarios, including an air defense exercise, gunnery exercise, search and rescue training, underway replenishment approaches, anti-submarine warfare vulnerability training and divisional tactics.

Prior to the sea phase a harbor phase will allow participants to conduct planning and simulation before heading to see to execute each scenario.

While the exercise began in 1993, 2016 is the first year that assets from the U.S. Navy will participate in Kakadu. The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) and a P-8A Poseidon maritime-surveillance aircraft along with staff from C7F, CTF 73 and CDS 7 are participating in 2016.

In addition to the United States, navies from Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and Singapore will participate in the sea phase while liaison officers from Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, Timor Leste and Vietnam will coordinate and observe from shore.

Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 staff conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises such as the bilateral CARAT series, NEA with Vietnam, and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.