After five successful narcotic seizures in the Middle East and 203 days away from home, Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Melbourne was welcomed back to her homeport of Sydney today.
Around one thousand family and friends joined the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and other dignitaries, to welcome the ship’s company home from duties as part of Operation MANITOU.
Minister Payne said the 223 men and women on board have made their families and Australia proud.
“Melbourne made a significant dent in the profits of smugglers running drugs for terrorists,” Minister Payne said.
“The frigate seized 977 kg of heroin valued at approximately $390 million. Removing these drugs from circulation curtails funding to terrorists.”
Commanding Officer Melbourne, Commander Bill Waters, said his crew did a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.
“From the boarding teams scouring suspect vessels, to the aircrew being our eyes in the sky, right through to the cooks, who served over 100,000 meals, every member of the crew showcased what they can do and worked very hard for our successes,” Commander Waters said.
“We patrolled vast tracts of ocean, with operations encompassing the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. It was a huge job but we were well supported by our task group commander, the coalition ships, the support agencies back here in Australia and forward deployed in the Middle East.”
Melbourne was operating within Combined Task Force 150, which is one of three major task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Force, a 30-nation coalition based in Bahrain. One of several task groups assigned to the combined forces, Combined Task Force 150 undertakes maritime security patrols in the region to counter maritime related terrorism and to intercept the trafficking of drugs and illicit cargoes that help fund international terrorist activities.
This was the Australian guided missile frigate’s eighth deployment to the Middle East region and the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1991.
Sister ship, HMAS Darwin, took over from Melbourne, continuing Australia’s commitment and provision of capability to enforce the security of the region.
Imagery of the deployment and arrival is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20160273.
Monetary value is based on Table 59 of the Australian Crime Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report 2013-14.