HMAS Anzac home after eventful deployment

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac has returned home, marking the end of an extended deployment that culminated in the ship re-tasked to support a critical search and rescue effort.

CAPTION: Able Seaman Rikki Phillips looks happy to be home as HMAS Anzac returns home to Fleet Base West in Western Australia following a two-month deployment through South East Asia and the North East Indian Ocean – with a last-minute detour to rescue Bali fishermen in destress. Photo by Leading Seaman Thomas Sawtell.

The Anzac-class frigate departed Australia with HMAS Sirius in early March for a deployment throughout Southeast Asia and the north-east Indian Ocean.

Originally due to return to her homeport of Fleet Base West in Western Australia on 14 May, the ship was called upon to conduct a search and rescue in the southern Indian Ocean.

After RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircraft assisted locating the vessel, Anzac sailed approximately 670 nautical miles west of Perth to provide support in the rescue of 20 Indonesian fishermen who became stranded on their sinking vessel.

The fishermen were offered medical assistance and accommodation on-board Anzac, with one fisherman transported to a Perth hospital for urgent care, and the ship delivering the other 19 fishermen to their homeport in Bali last Friday.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said Anzac’s quick transition to the search-and-rescue task was a testament to the commitment of the professionalism of the ship’s company.

“I would like to personally thank the ship’s company for their commitment and focus throughout this deployment, particularly after being recalled with their homeport in sight after almost three months at sea”, Lieutenant General Bilton said.

“HMAS Anzac had been focussed on our long-standing program of international engagements with regional partners.

“This included bilateral and multilateral activities with Brunei, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States.”

Anzac’s Commanding Officer Commander Brendan Horn said the navy-to-navy skills development during the deployment had prepared Anzac well to aid the Indonesian fishermen.

“While deployed, we practiced and refined key mariner skills with other nations, so when we got the call to assist we were ready to respond,” Commander Horn said.

“We knew there were people in distress and everyone understood that assisting them in any way we could was the absolute priority.

“The men and women of Anzac are now grateful to be home with their loved ones again and we are very grateful for their support over the past two months – we couldn’t have done this without them.”

Defence said COVID-19 safe protocols were implemented in the transport of the Indonesian fishermen and Anzac has been granted approval to return to Western Australia.

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Brian Hartigan

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