HMAS Melbourne is hard at work on her first Operation MANITOU patrol of her current deployment with the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East and northern Indian Ocean.
No stranger to the region, this is Melbourne’s eighth deployment to the Middle East and her second deployment with the Combined Maritime Forces in the past two years.
Initially Melbourne rendezvoused at sea with her sister ship HMAS Newcastle, where a series of helicopter transfers were conducted so key personnel from both ships could meet and conduct an operational handover.
The opportunity was also taken to conduct a series of underway ship handling manoeuvres, a task that Officer of the Watch, Lieutenant Sophie Gollan, found rewarding on different levels.
“It had been four weeks since we left Australia and it was great to be back operating with another Australian Navy ship,” she said.
“Apart from the training value, it was great to hear another Aussie’s voice over the radio.”
Melbourne next berthed in the Middle East to finalise operational preparations, training and logistics re-supply.
The ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Bill Waters, said some of the training featured a very international flavour
“A key feature was the region-specific boarding team training provided by the US Navy and US Coast Guard,” he said.
“The training was very specific to the region and further builds on the excellent training we received from the Sea Training group during Melbourne’s Mission Readiness work-up.”
Able Seaman Danielle Just, a Communication and Information Systems sailor, who is also a boarding party member, said the US training had been excellent.
“It has taken my boarding ability to the next level,” she said.
“I’m really looking forward to putting all the training I have to use, I feel really confident.”
Melbourne then started her first patrol with a VIP guest after the mission training.
Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces Combined Task Force 150, Rear Admiral Moazzam Ilyas, from the Pakistan Navy, took the opportunity to sea-ride in Melbourne and get acquainted with the latest unit under his command.
Rear Admiral Ilyas said seeing the ship’s preparations and the crew’s motivation assured him of their commitment to their mission.
“It is in line with the highest traditions of the Royal Australian Navy,” he said.
Melbourne is deployed on Operation MANITOU, supporting efforts to counter the trade of narcotics on the seas, the procedures of which help fund international terrorism.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20152655.