HMAS Ballarat has returned to port after participating in a search and rescue mission for two solo round-the-world yachtsmen.
HMAS Ballarat’s MH60 Romeo Seahawk helicopter recovered Irish national Mr Gregor McGuckin from a French scientific research station on Amsterdam Island after he was transported there by French fishing vessel Osiris. The other sailor, Indian Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy, had suffered a back injury and is being picked up by Indian Navy frigate INS Satpura for return to India.
Mr McGuckin has paid tribute to Ballarat and the many other agencies who helped him survive. “I will be forever indebted for your efforts,” Mr McGuckin said. “The real heroes are the professionals that coordinate and execute such missions. All were tested to their limits and they excelled.”
Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, also praised the quick response of Ballarat’s Ship's Company.
“With Ballarat about to deploy to the Middle East, the crew had literally proceeded on their first day of pre-deployment leave,” VADM Noonan said.
“For the team to respond to a recall at such short notice, and from all corners of Australia, is a tribute to their professionalism and dedication to fellow mariners.
“When sailors are called upon to assist someone in distress at sea, we never hesitate.
“We are very pleased that both yachtsmen are now safe and sound.”
Mr McGuckin’s partner Barbara O’Kelly was among those waiting to welcome him to Australia.
Mr McGuckin and CMDR Tomy were taking part in the Golden Globe solo round-the-world yacht race when they were de-masted by mountainous seas in the southern Indian Ocean, around 1900 nautical miles south-west of Perth.
Members of HMAS Ballarat’s Ship’s Company will now resume their pre-deployment leave to ensure all personnel are well rested and able to spend time with their loved ones prior to deployment to the Middle East Region.