Friends and family lined the wharf as HMAS Toowoomba departed Fleet Base West for their Operation MANITOU deployment over the weekend. The 191-strong ship’s company enjoyed their last few hours on Australian soil with their loved ones in the West Australian sunshine before the Ship’s horn sounded and the order was given to ‘man ship’.
It was a particularly proud moment for Toowoomba local, Seaman Marine Technician Samuel Stewart with the Mayor of Toowoomba Councillor Paul Antonio in attendance.
“It makes me feel pretty proud to wear the Ship’s cap tally with the name of the city I came from,” Able Seaman Stewart said.
Councillor Antonio relayed to the crowd his immense pride the city of Toowoomba has for the Ship.
“It is an honour for me to travel to the other side of Australia to spend a few moments with the crew of HMAS Toowoomba. I bring the very warmest wishes and a great deal of pride from the community of Toowoomba. We know that the Ship’s Company will continue to serve this nation well. All of you who serve on HMAS Toowoomba are now proud ambassadors for our city,” Councillor Antonio said.
In attendance also at the farewell event was Senator Linda Reynolds, The Hon Gary Gray, MP, Councillor Barry Sammels, Mayor or Rockingham, Commodore Jonathan Mead, AM, RAN Commander Australian Surface Forces and representatives from the local and State Returned Services League.
Commanding Officer, Commander Catherine Hayes said her Ship’s company had worked hard to prepare for their mission.
“Today the heart and soul of HMAS Toowoomba is 191 professional, proud and passionate sailors and Officer’s who I have the honour of to Command. 2014 has already been a busy year for Toowoomba with short notice deployments to both Operation RESOLUTE and Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN as well as extensive preparations and training for Operation MANITOU.
“Despite a compressed program Toowoomba has stoically tackled all challenges and has come together to form a formidable team which is now ready to meet the challenges assigned to us.
“All of our achievements thus far would not have been possible without the support of our families and our friends at home. It is this support that is the foundation of our success. A day will not pass without us looking forward to retuning to you - our friends and family,” Commander Hayes said.
When addressing her Ship’s Company before the final farewell to loved ones, Commander Hayes made reference to the ship’s motto; Fearless.
“Team Toowoomba the time has come for us to make ourselves and Australia proud and to represent our country. Let us be Fearless in the pursuit of our mission, for it is not that we are without fear, but it is what we do in the face of fear and uncertainty that makes us great,” Commander Hayes said.
Toowoomba is deploying to the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU to provide maritime support to international efforts to counter and deter terrorism and the trade of narcotics on the seas. Toowoomba’s deployment contributes to promoting maritime security within the region.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142265.