It was a perfect Sydney day on 30 December as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and friends and family at Garden Island, to farewell HMAS Darwin as the ship sailed for the Middle East region.
The 229 Royal Australian Navy personnel onboard had a curtailed Christmas break, having just completed a significant period of training in preparation for their Operation MANITOU role.
Darwin’s deployment is the 62nd rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East region since 1990 and the seventh by Darwin itself. She will relieve sister-ship, HMAS Melbourne, on station who has already made four significant drug hauls during her rotation.
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, spoke to the assembled crowd and noted that while most Australians were spending the festive season with their loved ones, Darwin was deploying on an important mission, conducting counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics interdiction operations on behalf of Australian people.
“Under the leadership of Commander Philip Henry, Darwin will work with multi-national partners to encourage regional co-operation and to promote a safe maritime environment in the Middle East and Horn of Africa regions,” he said.
Darwin will operate as part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces. This includes approximately three dozen ships from 30 nations patrolling more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters.
“I thank the officers and sailors onboard for their work preparing for this deployment, which will help ensure global maritime security and keep trade routes safe for legitimate mariners,” Rear Admiral Mayer said.
Darwin is a sister ship to Guided Missile Frigate Melbourne who has been in the Middle East now for almost six months.
Melbourne's most recent drug seizure was on 26 December, when the ship took custody of more than 100 kilograms of heroin from a fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean.