Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba is returning home to Australia after completing a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
Toowoomba has concluded her assignment to Joint Task Force 633 as part of Operation MANITOU, conducting counter-terrorism and maritime security operations, operating in the waters stretching from the Southern Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.
The ship made a significant intercept during the deployment, netting more than 3000 kilograms of illegal narcotics.
Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Susan Coyle recognised Toowoomba’s outstanding performance during trying times amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ship’s company in Toowoomba have executed their duties to the highest standard in support of the Combined Maritime Forces and as the inaugural Australian ship in support of the International Maritime Security Construct,” Major General Coyle said.
“Team Toowoomba has represented Australia, the Australian Defence Force and Royal Australian Navy to the highest standard.
“They have earned a joyful reuniting with their families and friends, and I thank them for their service,” Major General Coyle said.
Commanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Dylan Phillips, said he was proud of his crew’s achievements and looking forward to returning home in the coming weeks.
“We have enhanced our relationships in the region, as well as having an impact on terrorist funding lines through the interception and disposal of illegal drugs,” Commander Phillips said.
“Toowoomba intercepted an illegal shipment of hashish and heroin hidden inside a suspect vessel on 19 March. Our crew worked tirelessly throughout the day and well into the night to search the vessel, before seizing and destroying over three tonnes of drugs.
“Toowoomba’s contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces and International Maritime Security Construct has been highly successful due to our ship’s capability and the commitment of our highly trained crew over a sustained period on operations.
“I could not be prouder of everyone’s effort,” Commander Phillips said.
Toowoomba travelled more than 27,450 nautical miles and visited numerous ports, before COVID-19 impacts, throughout the region during the deployment.
Toowoomba’s efforts supported the safe passage of more than 180 International Maritime Security Construct flagged merchant vessels by providing overwatch of their transits through the Southern Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
Toowoomba was the 68th rotation of an Australian warship to the Middle East since 1990, which has upheld Australia’s reputation as an outstanding and reliable Coalition partner.