Christmas homecoming for Toowoomba

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Kara Wansbury (author), CPOIS David Connolly (photographer)

The crew of HMAS Toowoomba stream down from the flight deck to greet loved ones having returned home to Fleet Base West from a five month deployment in the Middle East Region just in time for Christmas.  (photo: CPOIS David Connolly)
The crew of HMAS Toowoomba stream down from the flight deck to greet loved ones having returned home to Fleet Base West from a five month deployment in the Middle East Region just in time for Christmas.

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, has joined hundreds of friends and family welcoming HMAS Toowoomba home from a five month deployment in support of Operation MANITOU.

The 191-strong ship’s company has spent 142 days assigned to the operation conducting maritime security and maritime interdiction operations as part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces.

During an extremely successful four months on operations Toowoomba has conducted 20 flag verification boardings comprising approximately 240 hours of boarding operations, which uncovered multiple hauls of illicit narcotics.

“The dedication and professionalism of the ship’s company has been impressive. Their hard work has resulted in the seizure and destruction of 6,312 kilograms of narcotics with a street value of more than half a billion dollars,” Rear Admiral Mayer said. 

“They should all be proud of their mission success and I congratulate them.”

Commanding Officer, Commander Catherine Hayes is the first woman to command an Australian warship on operations in the Middle East Region and said that the deployment had been the pinnacle of a successful 2014 for Toowoomba.

“Many will equate the success of our mission to the number of boardings we conducted, or the tonnes of illicit narcotics that we intercepted, but to me the greatest measure of our success has been the teamwork, professionalism and resilience,” Commander Hayes said.

“A portion of our success belongs to our families and friends; those members of our team at home who have been resilient, patient and supportive and have made sacrifices to enable ‘Team Toowoomba’ do the job we do. We feel very fortunate to be able to return home in time to celebrate Christmas.”

Toowoomba’s deployment was the first under Operation MANITOU and the fifth deployed to Middle East since her commissioning in 2005. The Operation is the Australian Government’s contribution to the international effort to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

HMAS Success took over from Toowoomba as the Royal Australian Navy’s representative in the region on 13 December.  The return of Toowoomba concludes the 58th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the region since the first Gulf War in 1990.

Additional imagery is available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143901.