The Hon. Jason Clare MP
Minister for Defence Materiel.
The Minister for Defence Material, Mr Jason Clare, MP joined the Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stephen Gilmore AM CSC RAN and emotional family and friends in welcoming HMAS Melbourne to her homeport of Garden Island, Sydney this morning.
The Adelaide Class Frigate, carrying 230 men and women was cheered alongside, as she returned triumphant from an eventful six-month deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper.
Mr Clare congratulated the Commanding Officer of Melbourne, Commander Michael Harris, RAN on a successful high-tempo operation.
“During the deployment, Melbourne was flexibly tasked to conduct maritime security and interception operations in support of both counter-terrorism and counter-piracy objectives in the Gulfof Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and the Red Sea. During this period she responded to 14 distress calls in relation to suspected piracy events and successfully intercepted a pirate vessel in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor,” said Minister Clare.
“The men and women embarked on Melbourne have made a significant contribution to the safety of vessels in maritime corridors during her deployment, and I congratulate Melbourne’s crew for their dedication and professionalism and thank the family and friends of those who serve for their tireless support and love.”
Commander Harris said his Ship’s Company were incredibly proud of their achievements but were clearly excited and happy to be home.
“My crew have performed exceptionally well, during what was a highly complex and demanding six months. The challenge of preparing and deploying an upgraded FFG on operations for the first time has been significant, and the successful completion of all taskings is something for which the men and women of Melbourne are justifiably proud of.”
“It’s fantastic to be back in Sydney today with our family and friends; without their steadfast support the deployment would not have been so successful,” he said.
Significantly, Melbourne was the first Adelaide Class Frigate deployed to the Gulf following the FFG upgrade project which saw new missile and torpedo systems installed as part of extensive capability enhancements.
Melbourne was replaced on station by HMAS Stuart, which took over in mid January.
File footage of HMAS Melbourne including recent piracy operations will be fed through Parliament House at 1000. At 4pm today vision of the return event will be fed through Parliament House and imagery will be available on the defence gallery.
Mary Bagnall (Jason Clare): 02 6277 7800 or 0434 665 067
Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664