Hundreds of family and friends welcomed HMAS Canberra home last week, following her six month overseas deployment through Asia.
The ship’s 388-strong tri-service company lined the upper decks as she pulled alongside Garden Island before stepping ashore to greet their loved ones for the first time since leaving Australia in February.
The 230 metre long Landing Helicopter Dock sailed almost 22,000 nautical miles during the deployment, visiting Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia as part of the international engagement exercise INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019.
During this phase of the deployment, Canberra participated in the bilateral maritime exercise AUSINDEX with the Indian Navy, conducted the first passage exercise between the Royal Australian Navy and the Vietnamese People’s Navy and supported the International Maritime Defence Expo 2019 in Singapore.
She also played a key role in Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER and the Joint Warfare Series, encompassing Exercise SEA EXPLORER, SEA RAIDER and TALISMAN SABRE 2019.
Canberra was home to more than 1400 people during different phases of her deployment with 430,000 meals served to her permanent ship’s company and embarked forces from around the world.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan was on the wharf as Canberra arrived and said that the ship’s company had achieved many key milestone in international engagement and amphibious capability.
“HMAS Canberra has proven she is a versatile platform, able to lead multi-ship Task Groups to engage with our regional partners far from Australia, as well as played a key role in successful multi-national exercises.
“Working with our neighbours is vital to maintaining interoperability and protecting our common interests in promoting peace and stability in the region,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Canberra, Captain Terry Morrison said the deployment had been demanding but his ship’s company had met the challenge with enthusiasm.
“A deployment as long and far away as this can be hard work, but I am proud of the crew for their hard work and consistently representing the Royal Australian Navy as a professional force everywhere we sailed.
“I thank the families and friends of our ship’s company for supporting their loved ones while they’ve been deployed.
“Know you can be proud of how they have represented Australia these past six months away from home,” he said.