Ballarat returns after six months away

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (photographer)

Location(s): Rockingham, Western Australia

Topic(s): HMAS Ballarat (F155), Exercise RIMPAC, Exercise NORTHERN SHIELD, Exercise NICHI GOU TRIDENT

Forecastle Party prepare to throw lines as HMAS Ballarat returns home to Fleet Base West, after a six month deployment. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Mack)
Forecastle Party prepare to throw lines as HMAS Ballarat returns home to Fleet Base West, after a six month deployment.

Families, friends and well-wishers lined the wharf at Fleet Base West recently as HMAS Ballarat returned home from a six-month Pacific deployment.

After steaming more than 24,000 nautical miles, the officers and crew of Ballarat were more than happy to be home and justifiably proud of their ship’s achievement over the preceding 25 weeks.

Commanding Officer, Commander David Landon said the deployment had a number of highlights, including acting as consort to one of Navy’s newest ships HMAS Adelaide during her work-up, and taking part in Exercise NICHI GOU TRIDENT with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.

“But the real highlight was participating in Exercise RIMPAC 2016 off Hawaii,” he said.

During Exercise Rim of the Pacific, (or RIMPAC), Ballarat joined more than 40 ships and submarines, and 200 aircraft from 26 countries in the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

Following RIMPAC and before returning to Australia, Ballarat took part in Exercise NORTHERN SHIELD which involved all three arms of the Australian Defence Force deploying to remote north-western Australia to counter a fictitious threat to the country’s national security.

The exercise incorporated force preparation activities, land force manoeuvres, air operations and maritime evolutions.

This was Ballarat’s first deployment since she underwent the anti-ship missile defence upgrade in 2014/15, and Commander Landon said his crew performed admirably during the entire six-month trip.

He said family support had a lot to do with the ship’s company being able to keep their minds on the job for such an extended period of time.

“The support of family and friends makes a deployment like ours possible,” Commander Landon said.

“The Ballarat families have been exceptional in their support throughout our time away, and to have them share in our homecoming was very special.”

Ballarat 
will now head into a short maintenance period giving the ship’s company a chance to take leave and undertake various courses before preparing for a busy 2017.