Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, the Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM MP and the Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett AM CSC RAN were today on the wharf to farewell HMAS Melbourne, as she sailed for her third tour of duty as part of Operation Slipper.
Family and friends waved an emotional goodbye to the 236 men and women embarked in Melbourne under the command of Commanding Officer, Commander Richard Boulton, RAN as she sailed for a six-month deployment.
Dr Kelly acknowledged the sacrifices made by the crew as they undertake this important role.
"Over recent months the ship’s company has been engaged in training to prepare them for the job that they are about to do, this has already resulted in absences from loved ones."
"Melbourne is deploying to the MEAO as part of the US-led Combined Maritime Force, which is responsible for maritime security operations in the Gulf region; the maritime environment around the Horn of Africa; and counter piracy/terrorism operations in the Gulf of Aden.
"Combined Maritime Forces patrols more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters. Their role will be to counter terrorism, prevent piracy and reduce the illegal trafficking of people and drugs."
Commander Boulton thanked the family and friends gathered for the support provided to their loved ones while they prepared for their mission.
"Over the past months we have worked long hours and spent much time away preparing for this deployment. Today I’d like to recognise the commitment and sacrifices made by our families and friends. Without your support, care and encouragement we would not be ready to deploy today. For everything you have done and everything you will do, we say thank you".
"I am proud of the accomplishments of my team and I know that you share that pride," Commander Boulton said.
This deployment marks Melbourne’s third deployment to Operation Slipper and is the 28th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy fleet unit since September 2001. Melbourne will relieve HMAS Parramatta on station.
Imagery of the departure will be available in the Defence image gallery (www.defence.gov.au) from 2.30pm.
Elyse Gatt (Dr Kelly) 02 6277 4840 or 0459 810 654
Department 02 6127 1999