HMAS Toowoomba and her ship’s company of around 190 personnel arrived in Bahrain to commence operations in the Middle East under Operation Manitou on 31 January [though the accompanying photo says 2 February – and I trust the photographer more than the minister for accuracy].
CAPTION: HMAS Toowoomba arrives in Bahrain to commence her sixth rotation in the Middle East, 2 February 2020. Photo by Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey.
The Anzac-class frigate will also support the International Maritime Security Construct* in its mission to ensure freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz and continue Australia’s longstanding effort with the Combined Maritime Forces.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said HMAS Toowoomba would play a vital role alongside coalition partners and perform key roles such as counter-terrorism, preventing piracy and ensuring freedom of navigation.
“Under the International Maritime Security Construct*, HMAS Toowoomba will work with a range of international partners** to monitor and deter destabilising activity and support the safe passage of commercial and civilian shipping in the Middle East region,” Minister Reynolds said.
“HMAS Toowoomba will also support the Combined Maritime Forces through Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), which Australia currently commands.
“The Combined Maritime Forces is an enduring multinational taskforce of 33 nations committed to disrupting terrorist organisations and illegal activities in the maritime domain and promoting stability in the region.
“The crew are well-prepared for their mission and will serve Australia’s interests with distinction, and I thank the families and friends of those on board Toowoomba for their continued support.”
This will be the Royal Australian Navy’s 68th deployment to the Middle East Region since 1990 and the sixth mission for HMAS Toowoomba.
Commander of Combined Task Force 150 Commodore Ray Leggatt said Toowoomba’s professional and motivated crew was looking forward to working in direct support of CTF 150.
“Royal Australian Navy vessels have a successful history working with CTF 150 on previous deployments and I am confident that this deployment will be no different,” Commodore Leggatt said.
On her way to Bahrain, HMAS Toowoomba conducted a transit of the Strait of Hormuz with the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender.
EDITOR’S NOTE: *The International Maritime Security Construct is a new organisation, established on 16 September 2019, in direct response to Iran’s attacks on oil tankers. Australia and the UK were the only western allies to join the USA when it convened the International Maritime Security Construct – presumably because the established coalitions, including Combined Task Force 150 and others, refused to endorse a new US-led focus on Iran. They have since been **joined by Albania, plus three Arab states. Australia has five headquarters staff posted to the International Maritime Security Construct, which is (or at least was two months ago) headquartered in a tent in Bahrain.