In the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 1999, under the light of the southern cross, USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) surfaced on the calm waters of the Indian Ocean and made its way east to Perth, Western Australia.
Mooring at HMAS Stirling, the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) newest base, Los Angeles received a very warm welcome from its Australian hosts. The day after the ship moored was Thanksgiving and, though they were a long way from home, the crew was treated to a Thansgiving Day feast in the company of their Australian navy counterparts courtesy of the clubs on base.
After being well-fed, it was time for the crew to see the many sights of Western Australia. Through the help of an MWR tour representative, many crewmembers arranged lodging in the nearby town of Fremantle. From there, it was off to scuba-diving, wine-tasting, horseback-riding and many other activities, against the backdrop of the Western Australian countryside.
While they were enjoying their Australian port visit, the crew of the Los Angeles was also busy getting ready to participate in exercise Lungfish 99 with three RAN submarines, RAN surface ships and U.S. and RAN Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Two of the RAN submarines were HMAS Farncomb and HMAS Waller, the two newest submarines of the Collins class.
Lungfish 99, the ninth of the series of U.S.-Australian submarine exercises, tested coordinated operations for scenarios of coastal defense and choke point denial and culminated in a series of MK 48 exercise torpedo firings by Los Angeles, Farncomb and Waller.
After a brief stop back at HMAS Stirling to recap the events of Lungfish, Los Angeles departed Western Australia, with only one more stop to make before heading back home to Pearl Harbor for the holidays.
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