Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Melbourne is returning home to Australia after completing more than 50 boarding operations and seizing almost a tonne of heroin during a Middle Eastern deployment.
CAPTION: HMAS Melbourne pulls in for replenishment in Bahrain before her return voyage to Australia. Photo by Corporal Mark Doran.
The guided missile frigate handed over maritime security responsibilities to sister ship HMAS Darwin after five months of operations in support of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and more than six months away from home.
Commanding Officer of Melbourne Commander Bill Waters commended the ship’s company of 223 officers and sailors for their commitment and efforts that ensured a successful deployment.
“To put that in perspective, these drugs had an Australian street value of around $390 million.
“Such searches are not easy, as the drugs are concealed within difficult-to-access compartments in small dhows, and boarding teams work incredibly hard in arduous conditions to find them.”
Commander Waters said the work the Australian Navy was doing with its international partners was making a positive and tangible difference to security in the Middle East region and was impacting the ability of international terrorist organisations to fund their illegal activities.
“I’m incredibly proud of my ship’s company and their performance over the six months we have been deployed.
“They have never waivered in their dedication to making meaningful differences in the region.”
During the deployment, HMAS Melbourne patrolled more than 37,000 nautical miles – her embarked S-70B Seahawk helicopter flew 350 hours – and the galley served more than 100,000 meals.
Additionally, Melbourne was awarded the 2015 Duke of Gloucester Cup for being the best unit in the Royal Australian Navy.
Melbourne has been conducting maritime security operations with the multinational force as part of Combined Task Force 150.
Her operations encompassed the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.
This was HMAS Melbourne’s eighth deployment to the Middle East and the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel to the region since 1990.