It’s all in a day’s work for HMAS Success, as she has completed two maritime engagement operations with local fisherman off the Arabian Sea in the space of an afternoon.
After completing a replenishment at sea with HMS Kent under Combined Task Force 53 tasking, HMAS Success began patrolling the area in support of Combined Task Force 150.
During a morning surface search mission the following day, the ship’s Seahawk helicopter reported the first of the vessels. The boat was reported stopped dead in the water, not displaying a flag, with fishing gear onboard and several small skiff boats in the area suggesting it to be the mother of a fishing troop.
At around 2pm local time the ship's boarding team approached a Shu’ai dhow for flag verification. Earlier that day the ship’s embarked helicopter had reported the vessel during a surface search mission. The boat was reported stopped dead in the water, not displaying a flag, with fishing gear onboard and several small skiff boats in the area suggesting it to be the mother of a fishing troop.
The dhow’s crew was very receptive and the master invited the team onboard, who confirmed the safety of the vessel after a quick sweep. The Boarding Officer spoke with the master of the vessel and confirmed it was registered to an Omani fishing company. The master did not give a reason for not displaying a flag.
Combined Maritime Forces ships board dhows regularly, the ship's master explained that the patrols make them feel safe to continue their trade.
Commanding Officer Success Captain Justin Jones said that maritime engagements such as these help to foster good relations with the local merchant vessels.
“We are learning valuable information from them to assist us in our job, and these visits increase the local seafarers’ confidence in the Combined Maritime Force’s ability to keep them safe,” Captain Jones said.
Within an hour of returning, the boarding team were required to conduct another flag verification boarding of a similar vessel reported from the aircraft during their afternoon search. The second boarding went as smoothly as the first, with similar findings. The master of this fishing dhow, Mr Mohammad Shaharb, said this was the first time his vessel had been boarded but he felt safer for the experience.
Boarding Officer Sub Lieutenant Thomas Matthews said he knew his team were ready for this opportunity, and recognises the value of their job.
“Positive maritime engagements are a very important part of what we do here in the region, and doing two in one afternoon just highlights the number of vessels in the area depending on their protection,” said Sub Lieutenant Matthews.
Success’s role in the Middle East Region is varied as it can assist with anti-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations by means of boardings and aircraft surface searches, while fulfilling its primary tasking of providing fuel and stores to other ships via underway and vertical replenishments at sea.
Operation MANITOU is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region. Success is due to return from deployment in May this year.