A Chinese ship has been spotted off the Australian coast as a massive military exercise involving some 30,000 personnel from 13 countries continues.
The Deputy Prime Minister has brushed off concerns about the spy ship, which was spotted off the Queensland coast in the Coral Sea, as defence personnel confirmed they had expected one to arrive and monitor the war games.
Exercise Talisman Sabre 23 was officially launched on Friday, with thousands of military personnel involved in the training in Australia’s waters over the next two weeks.
The Australian Defence Force confirmed they expected at least one, but possibly two, People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) ships to sit within Australia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to observe the exercises off the coast of the Northern Territory and Queensland.
Speaking to Nine’s Weekend Today, Mr Marles said there always seems to be a Chinese vessel observing Talisman Sabre.
“That’s fine, they are acting in accordance with international law and so this is to be completely expected,” Mr Marles said.
“For us, it is really about our capability and our capacity and it is very much about our ability to work with other countries, our friends and allies, and particularly the United States.”
Mr Marles also said he’s not worried about Republicans in the US Senate blocking legislation to approve the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal.
“I have been briefed by exactly what is occurring in the Congress,” he said.
“I think this is pretty well business as usual, in terms of the way in which legislation proceeds through the Congress.”
It comes as the USS Canberra becomes the first US naval vessel to be commissioned in Australia.
The Independence-class littoral combat ship, designed in Western Australia, was officially brought into service in a ceremony in Sydney on Saturday.
It’s one of the most significant milestones in the life of a ship and has been a US Navy tradition since 1775.