Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Melbourne was welcomed back to her homeport of Sydney today after 203 days away from home, on operations in the Middle East.
Around one thousand family and friends were dockside at Garden Island to welcome the ship’s company home from duties as part of Operation Manitou.
Minister Payne said the 223 men and women on board HMAS Melbourne had made their families and Australia proud.
“Melbourne made a significant dent in the profits of smugglers running drugs for terrorists,” Senator Payne said.
“The frigate seized 977kg of heroin valued at approximately $390 million.
“Removing these drugs from circulation curtails funding to terrorists.”
Commanding Officer HMAS 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, coalition ships, the support agencies back here in Australia and forward deployed in the Middle East.”
HMAS 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.