Jet-laden giant US carrier closes in on Brisbane

 

One of the world's largest and most powerful military ships has been spotted laden with fighter jets off the Sunshine Coast as it heads to Brisbane, bringing with it thousands of cashed-up sailors looking to enjoy the River City's bars and restaurants.

Its crossing on the Sunshine Coast comes after two separate submarines were spotted off Caloundra earlier this week - a Royal Australian Navy Collins class submarine and a Los Angeles class American nuclear powered submarine.

The USS ROland Reagan cruises past the Sunshine Coast on its way to Brisbane. Picture: Cade Mooney
The USS ROland Reagan cruises past the Sunshine Coast on its way to Brisbane. Picture: Cade Mooney

 

OVERNIGHT: A legendary military vessel is expected to dock in Brisbane by the weekend in the lead up to Australia's largest joint-military training exercise.

The Courier-Mail understands gigantic aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is expected to arrive in Brisbane in the coming days meaning thousands of sailors will likely hit the streets of the city with cash to spend.

It comes during the Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019 beginning in Queensland this month.

The USS Ronald Reagan last time it was in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Darren England
The USS Ronald Reagan last time it was in Brisbane. Picture: AAP/Darren England

The Talisman Sabre series of exercises is the principal Australian and US military bilateral training exercise focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity "high end" warfighting.

An Australian Department of Defence spokeswoman previously told The Courier-Mail the Talisman Sabre training exercise will include one of the largest gatherings of military ships to visit Brisbane for a single exercise in more than three decades.

The majority of TS19 exercises will take place in the Shoalwater Bay Training area near Rockhampton, with up to 25,000 military personnel converging on the Sunshine State for the biennial training activity between now and August, the peak of the exercise being held from July 11 to August 24.

While the US Embassy could not comment on the ship's arrival, defence experts say residents of Brisbane would be amazed by the "powerful" vessel.

John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University said the 18-year-old military ship is a "spectacular sight".

"It is awesome to see and it is awesome to experience on board, and it is quite an amazingly capable and powerful demonstration of America's power," he said.

"There is nothing else in the world that can match the capability of the fleet of US aircraft carriers of which USS Ronald Reagan is a prime example, the potency of these platforms is unrivalled."

The ship has been defined as a "technological marvel" and cost $4.5 billion to build and $1 million daily to fully operate.

It houses more than 4,400 people sandwiched between an airport that supports more than 60 combat aircraft and two nuclear reactors that provide the ship enough energy to power a small city.

Prof Blaxland said the ship is a "very sophisticated and flexible" platform that can be used to assert American power and provide reassurance to allies.

"Effectively, the aircraft carriers of today operate like mini islands with an airfield on them," he said,

"They are like little cities, several thousand people on board … and they are all about the ability to project air power."

An Australian Collins Class sub at Hamilton in Brisbane yesterday. Pic Peter Wallis
An Australian Collins Class sub at Hamilton in Brisbane yesterday. Pic Peter Wallis

The arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan has not been confirmed by authorities, but is believed to reach the Port of Brisbane as early as Friday.

Locals also spotted two submarines in the Brisbane River on Thursday with one believed to be the Australian vessel HMAS Farncomb.

A US supply ship, the USNS Rappahannock, has already docked in the Port of Brisbane.

The Defence Department spokesman confirmed an Australian submarine did pass by the southeast Queensland coast earlier this week.

"A Royal Australian Navy Collins class submarine transited past the Sunshine Coast on 02 July 2019, while a US Navy submarine transited the same passage (on Thursday)," he said.

"Both vessels are in Brisbane for a routine port visit prior to the commencement of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019."

The USS Ronald Reagan has a store on board. Picture: Derek Moore
The USS Ronald Reagan has a store on board. Picture: Derek Moore

FAST FACTS

LAUNCHED: 2001

MOTTO: Peace through strength

DISPLACEMENT: 101,000 tonnes

LENGTH: 333 metres

BEAM: 77 metres

PROPULSION: Two Westinghouse nuclear reactors, four steam turbines

SPEED: 30 knots (56km/h)

PERSONNEL:

4225 sailors

including:

2700 enlisted ship's company

160 officers ship's company

1150 enlisted air wing

215 officers air wing

ARMAMENTS:

● Close-In Weapons System (range: 3.5km), rate of fire: 4500 rounds per minute. Purpose: Rader-guided Gattling gun defend against anti-ship missiles

● NATO Sea Sparrow Missile Launcher (range: 16km). Purpose: defends against anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft

AIRCRAFT: The ship has a mixture of more than 60 aircraft at any time, including F/A-18 Hornet, SH-60 Seahawk, C-2 Greyhound, E-2 Hawkeye