Maritime security a year-round duty

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Arunta (F151), HMAS Ballarat (F155), Anzac Day

Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta Commander Cameron Steil watches over HMAS Arunta's boarding party as it conducts a boarding while on patrol in the Middle East Region. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta Commander Cameron Steil watches over HMAS Arunta's boarding party as it conducts a boarding while on patrol in the Middle East Region.

While many Australians spend Anzac Day off work, Royal Australian Navy personnel around the world will remain on watch, contributing to global security, stability and prosperity.

On operations in countries as far from home as Afghanistan and South Sudan, in regions such as the Middle East and in waters off Australia’s northern borders.

Their work is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but they will take some time off on 25 April to honour the sacrifices made by past and present service men and women.

HMAS Ballarat is on a three-month deployment to South East Asia and will take part in a dawn service at Kranji War Memorial inSingapore with New Zealand service personnel.

Commanding Officer Ballarat Commander David Landon said this year’s Anzac Day service would be poignant as South East Asia had been an important theatre during both World Wars.

“Anzac Day tends to bring the crew even closer together and forges a greater bond, particularly because you are away from home with what is a close-knit group of people with a common purpose,” he said.

“Anzac Day in Singapore will be very special in its own right, noting the history there, and the fact we will be joining personnel from the Royal New Zealand Navy will make for a fantastic experience.”

Commander Landon said Anzac Day served as a reminder to all of the nature of war and the ultimate sacrifice that many made in past and current conflicts.

“Anzac Day is always important to deployed officers and sailors alike. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the past, our traditions and also an opportunity to look ahead to the future and appreciate what we may be called upon to do in the service of the nation,” he said.

Ballarat’s mission while deployed is to strengthen Australian relationships in South East Asia by participating in a series of maritime exercises.

The ship recently conducted exercises with the People's Liberation Army - Navy and will mark the Republic of Singapore Navy’s 50th Anniversary by taking part in the country’s International Maritime Review on 5 May.

Sister ship HMAS Arunta and her crew of almost 200 will also be on duty for Anzac Day.

Deployed to the Middle East region for nine months, her mission as part of a Combined Maritime Forces is to conduct security operations, including deterring terrorists and the trade of narcotics that fund them.

The ship has already seized 800 kilograms of hashish with an estimated street value of $36 million in a boarding in March this year.

Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Duncan MacRae said the ship’s company were looking forward to Anzac Day as it marked the start of the second phase of their deployment.

“Commemorating Anzac Day on operations has a special significance especially for those onboard who have deployed for the first time,” he said.

“We will commemorate Anzac Day alongside in Bahrain before we get back into the rigour of preparing Arunta for sea as we start more counter terrorism patrols in Middle Eastern waters,” Lieutenant Commander MacRae said.

“I am very proud to be a part of this crew and the way they have conducted their mission so far.

“Many of us will use Anzac Day as a time to reflect on our own service and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in war.”