The Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba set sail today for a six-month deployment to the Middle East after an emotional farewell from her home port of Fleet Base West in Western Australia.
Navy’s Commander Australian Surface Forces, Commodore Jonathan Mead, and the Senator for Western Australia, Senator Louise Pratt, joined Defence family members for the departure ceremony, giving the crew of Toowoomba a formal send off.
Toowoomba will take on duties with Operation Slipper when her crew of 180 men and women arrives in the Middle East. The frigate will relieve HMAS Anzac, which has been in the region for the past six months.
Toowoomba’s deployment marks the 30th rotation of RAN ships in support of coalition maritime security operations in the Middle East since September 2001.
Representing the Acting Minister for Defence, Warren Snowdon, Senator Pratt acknowledged the important work that would be done during Toowoomba’s deployment.
“Your mission is of the utmost importance to our nation. Over the next six months you will be part of an international taskforce which is focused on keeping the maritime environment free of piracy and terrorism. This mission is particularly vital to Australia’s import and export markets – and to the overall stability of our economy,” Senator Pratt said.
Commodore Mead wished the ship’s company a safe and successful deployment.
“You have just enjoyed Christmas at home with your families, and have had time to reflect on what’s important to you. Now it’s time to focus on the task of conducting a safe and successful deployment.
“You have worked hard to get here and your devotion to duty is indisputable. You will be in our hearts and minds while you are away serving this great nation,” Commodore Mead said.
Toowoomba’s Commanding Officer, Commander Brendon Zilko, praised the efforts of his crew while preparing for the deployment.
“I am deeply proud of the dedication and commitment displayed by this crew during our preparation, which has spanned the past six months. There is no doubt in my mind that we are 100 per cent mission ready and focused on getting the job done,” he said.
Toowoomba’s crew proved its readiness in November when the warship responded to a call for help from a cruise liner in Western Australian waters, and safely transferred a sick passenger from the liner to a Perth hospital, 71 nautical miles away.
Toowoomba is scheduled to return home to Fleet Base West in June 2013.
Imagery of the event will be available later today at http://images.defence.gov.au/12132340
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999