HMAS Melbourne turns toward home after successful Middle East deployment

Published on CAPT Chris Rickey (author), WO2 Rob Nyffenegger (photographer)

Location(s): Muscat, Oman

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Melbourne (F05)

"Piped-on!" Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC, pays his respects while boarding HMAS Melbourne in Port Sultan Qaboos, Oman.

On the eve of her departure from the Middle East Area of Operations, the sailors and officers of HMAS Melbourne have been congratulated for their efforts while deployed as part of Operation SLIPPER.

Over the course of her rotation, which commenced in September 2012, the crew successfully interdicted a suspected pirate vessel and crew, and took part in no fewer than six major narcotics seizures which resulted in more than an estimated $AUD 1.214 billion worth of illicit drugs removed from circulation and destroyed.

Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC travelled to Muscat, Oman, where the ship was taking on supplies, to present the crew with their operational service medals and officially thank them for their contribution to maritime security and Operation SLIPPER.

The crew of HMAS Melbourne take on fresh stores during a port visit to Muscat, Oman. Melbourne docked at Port Sultan Qaboos to replenish stores before departing the Middle East Area of Operations.

The crew of HMAS Melbourne take on fresh stores during a port visit to Muscat, Oman. Melbourne docked at Port Sultan Qaboos to replenish stores before departing the Middle East Area of Operations.

“I have a lot to say to you today and the first thing is well done. HMAS Melbourne has achieved remarkable success during this rotation,” he said to the ship’s company, which had assembled on Melbourne’s flight deck.

“Your anti-piracy and counter-narcotics operations were extremely effective.”

In terms of maritime security, there is little doubt HMAS Melbourne made its mark.

“Your presence in the Area of Operations has had a tangible and positive effect for Joint Task Force 633, the Combined Maritime Forces and Combined Task Forces 150 and 151,” Major General Orme said.

Members of the crew, who had not previously deployed to the Middle East, received the Australian Active Service and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, while six members were singled out with Commander Joint Task Force 633 Commendations.

Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC, presents a Melbourne crew member with his operational and service medals.

Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC, presents a Melbourne crew member with his operational and service medals.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, Commander Brian Schlegel, RAN says the entire ship’s company is worthy of high praise.

“The ship’s achievements during this deployment are a direct reflection of the professionalism and dedication of the crew,” he said.

Following the medal presentation, the ship’s company welcomed on board 36 new crew members who will gain valuable sea going experience during the four week journey home. Amongst the new arrivals were two RAN psychologists who will conduct routine post deployment psychological screenings for crew members.

The ship is expected to reach Sydney in mid March, where hundreds of family and friends will turn out to welcome Melbourne home.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140303.