HMAS Ballarat has returned to port after participating in a search and rescue mission for two solo round-the-world yachtsmen.
CAPTION: 2018 Golden Globe Race competitor Gregor McGuckin is reunited with partner Barbara O’Kelly onboard HMAS Ballarat, at Fleet Base East (sic – official ADF photo caption 😉 ), Western Australia. Photo by Leading Seaman Richard Cordell.
Ballarat’s MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter recovered Irish national Gregor McGuckin from a French scientific research station on Amsterdam Island after he was transported there by French fishing vessel Osiris.
The second sailor, Indian Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy, who suffered a back injury, was picked up by Indian Navy frigate INS Satpura for return to India.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan praised the quick response of Ballarat’s Ship’s Company.
“With Ballarat about to deploy to the Middle East, the crew had been on their first day of pre-deployment leave,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
“For the team to respond to a recall at such short notice, and from all corners of Australia, is a tribute to their professionalism and dedication to fellow mariners [and probably says something about the state of unreadiness of other fleet units in Western Australia – CONTACT speculation].
“As sailors, when called upon to assist someone in distress at sea, we never hesitate.
“We are very pleased that both yachtsmen are now safe.”
Mr McGuckin accepted Australia’s offer to transfer him to Western Australia where he was met by family and friends who had flown at short notice to Perth.
The sailors were taking part in the Golden Globe solo round-the-world yacht race when they were de-masted by mountainous seas in the southern Indian Ocean, around 1900 nautical miles south-west of Perth.
Ballarat’s Ship’s Company will now resume their pre-deployment leave to ensure all personnel are well rested and able to spend time with their loved ones before their Middle East deployment.