HMAS Ballarat celebrated its 17th birthday on the day the ship finished its Regional Presence Deployment off the coast of the NT.
CAPTION: Commanding Officer Ballarat Commander Antony Pisani, right, with the youngest crew member Seaman Christiaan Rijkaart during the cutting of the ship’s birthday cake at sea. Story by Lieutenant Gary McHugh. Photo by Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez.
Ballarat, which was commissioned on June 26, 2004, has sailed more than 500,000 nautical miles since she entered service, with the latest deployment adding 18,060 to that total.
Command Warrant Officer Glen Wright said despite its advancing years, the ship was still as combat-ready as ever.
“After a long and busy Regional Presence Deployment throughout South-East and north-east Asia, Ballarat is showing a bit of the usual wear and tear but she still remains a very effective warship,” Warrant Officer Wright said.
“During the past three months we have been involved in a number of cooperative activities with partner navies and Ballarat’s performance was a credit to the Royal Australian Navy.”
But coming to the end of the ship’s current deployment doesn’t mean it’s stand easy for Ballarat and its ship’s compnay, which still has a number of commitments to fulfil before the ship returns to Fleet Base West later this year.
Commanding Officer Ballarat Commander Antony Pisani said this included participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre in July.
“We can’t afford to rest on our laurels just yet as we still have a busy schedule ahead of us before the ship enters the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program at the end of the year,” Commander Pisani said.
“The ship’s company has done a remarkable job over the past 12 months, which has included two high-profile overseas deployments, and I congratulate them all on remaining focused on the mission.”
To celebrate the big day, which also happened to be the birthdays of Chief Petty Officer Lukas Hampton and Able Seaman Jahmina Johnston-Timu, the ship’s chefs baked a cake, which was shared among the ship’s company at a clear lower deck.
Ballarat conducted its most recent deployment under strict COVID-19 mitigation protocols to ensure the health and safety of all personnel.