Friends and family lined the wharf at Garden Island, Sydney to farewell 233 officers and sailors as they departed for the Middle East region onboard HMAS Melbourne for Operation MANITOU.
Melbourne will spend six months conducting counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics interdiction operations as part of multi-national Combined Maritime Forces.
Commanding Officer Melbourne Commander Bill Waters said saying good bye-to loved ones was hard.
“It is a particularly tough day today and something that is a reality of our lives in the Navy having to say good bye to our families for overseas deployments," he said.
He said despite this, his crew were looking forward to getting on to task.
“The Middle East is a highly unpredictable and complex part of the world.
"We have trained very hard to ensure we are individually and collectively ready,” Commander Waters said.
“We started preparing for this deployment nine months ago.
"Since then we have completed our peace time work-up, installed specific weapons and systems for this deployment and four weeks ago completed our final assessments to certify us for the deployment.
"I am proud of how my ship’s company has met each challenge.”
While deployed, Melbourne will build on the success of recent Navy rotations, disrupting the supply of narcotics. When traded, these drugs provide funds to terrorist organisations.
The Minister for Defence and Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, were on the wharf and wished the frigate fair winds and following seas.
In his address, Rear Admiral Mayer explained the ship’s complex capabilities.
“Inside Melbourne is an airfield with all weather air services, a power station, a desalination plant, a headquarters, a restaurant that will prepare a thousand meals a day, a warehouse the rival of any engineering firm, a fire brigade, a metal fabricator, a telecommunications station, a boarding party capable of the most forensic searches, a weapon and sensor network capable of controlling the region on, above and under the sea to hundreds of miles, a diplomatic mission and a group of mariners able to conduct all these roles to the highest professional standard – all while 4,000 miles from home.”
“In all these remarkable roles the common thread is the professionalism of the men and women, that make 4,000 tonnes of metal into a warship.
"A warship that will ensure we can keep our promise to you – that your Navy will preserve security on the high seas and ensure all Australian’s can benefit from the trade that enables our economy when rules based global order prevails,” he said.
He also challenged the crew to do four things.
“Commit to professional excellence in every thing you do.
"Commit to safety – look after yourselves and your mates.
"Commit to trying something new – this is a great opportunity professionally and personally; and commit to writing home to mum - she worries,” Rear Admiral Mayer said.
Melbourne deployment is the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East region since 1990. She will relieve HMAS Newcastle on station.