HMAS Newcastle has returned to her home port of Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney, following a six month deployment to the Middle East region.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, welcomed 230 members of the ship’s company home from the operational tasking which included counter terrorism and counter piracy patrols as part of the Combined Maritime Forces and a two-week attachment with the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Arabian Gulf.
Minister Payne said Newcastle had continued Australia’s reputation for professionalism and cooperation with international partners, supporting the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG-11) with air defence and escort operations, as well as a range of naval manoeuvres with US Navy ships.
“Newcastle has maintained Australia’s high standing in the Combined Maritime Forces proving our commitment to the Middle East region,” she said.
“The Royal Australian Navy has again proven a potent and capable asset in the fight against terrorist operations and the illegal activities that fund them,” Minister Payne said.
“This deployment included the first simultaneous operations of manned and unmanned aircraft in Operation Manitou, with Newcastle’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System employed to enhance surface search tasking in the Middle East Area of Operations."
ScanEagle is equipped with a ‘Video Detection and Ranging’ camera that automatically detects surface contacts, increasing situational awareness and search capacity. The cooperative employment of both aviation platforms provided a strong deterrence against illegal activity.
Commanding Officer HMAS Newcastle, Commander Mark Sirois, said the he was proud of the ship’s achievements.
“The men and women in Newcastle have shown determination and diligence in each and every task, through a variety of maritime security activities, they have demonstrated enthusiasm and professionalism and upheld the finest traditions of the Royal Australian Navy,” he said.
“It’s not easy to be away from family and friends for any length of time, and I thank all of our families for their ongoing support.”
The arrival signified the last deployment of an Adelaide class guided missile frigate to the region with future rotations to be fulfilled by upgraded Anzac class helicopter frigates.