Assistant Minister for Defence - HMAS Melbourne returns from billion dollar drug bust mission

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The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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14 March 2014

A crowd of well-wishers today joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO, CSC, RAN at Garden Island, Sydney to welcome home HMAS Melbourne from a successful Middle East mission.

The crew of 232 spent Christmas at sea, patrolling sea lanes to provide safe passage to legitimate mariners.

Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert congratulated the ship’s company of HMAS Melbourne on her successful deployment, which saw her intercept more than $1 billion in illegal drugs.

“HMAS Melbourne made some significant drug detections while conducting maritime security and interception operations, coordinated by the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150,” Mr Robert said.

“Your decisive and effective response to these maritime threats highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region, and underpins your important work in Australia’s national interest.

“I also warmly thank all the families here today for the support you have provided to your loved ones. The crew of HMAS Melbourne were outstanding throughout their deployment and that was of course made possible because of the crucial support you provided to them from back here in Australia.”

Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne, Commander Brian Schlegel RAN said his crew lived by their ship’s motto 'Vires Acquirit Eundo' and gathered strength as they went.

“The crew deserve acknowledgement for their dedication during this deployment. The boarding party and embarked S70B-2 Seahawk helicopter crew were particularly busy and were outstanding in their performance,” Commander Schlegel said.

“We had some notable achievements while deployed including the seizure of over half a tonne of heroin worth over $1 billion, which dealt a severe blow to those groups that use the money to fund unlawful activities.

“The additional seizure of almost 24 kilograms of methamphetamines and two tonnes of suspected cannabis resin, as well as the interception of nine suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, were also important to securing the maritime environment for legitimate trade.”

While deployed, HMAS Melbourne conducted maritime security counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic operations as part of the 30 nation Combined Maritime Force. Her deployment marked the 56th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the region since the First Gulf War.

Media note:

Imagery of the drug and piracy interceptions has been previously fed to Parliament House Bureau.

Imagery of today’s arrival, will be available at:

Information about HMAS Melbourne is available at:

Media contacts:

Richard Briedis (Minister Robert's Office) 0477 391 174

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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