HMAS Stalwart has completed its first visit to a foreign port while deployed in support of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 (IPE22).
CAPTION: HMAS Stalwart sails into Timor-Leste during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022. Story by Captain Lily Charles. Photos by Corporal Brandon Grey.
Coming alongside in Dili, Stalwart’s visit was also the first to Timor-Leste by a Royal Australian Navy vessel following the signing of the new Defence Cooperation Agreement in September and the first since borders were closed in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The ship was commissioned into service in November 2021 as the Navy’s second Supply-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel and Commanding Officer Stalwart, Commander Steve McCracken, said it had been a busy year for the crew.
“Being new into service, Stalwart has been working towards milestones on the path to operational capability,” Commander McCracken said.
“Critical to this has been the period of sea trials conducted in May-June 2022 followed by a period of maintenance to ensure the ship remains materially ready for deployment.
“The final piece of the preparedness puzzle has been the collective training to ensure the ship is at the required level to deploy off the Australian station.
“To progress from commissioning to operational deployment in under 12 months is a significant achievement that the ship is very proud of.”
From September until late November, five ships, 11 helicopters and about 1800 personnel will visit 14 countries, participating in activities and joint training exercises in the areas of maritime law, humanitarian assistance and gender, peace and security, as well as military engagement.
While HMA Ships Adelaide and Anzac form the main maritime contingent, Stalwart, along with HMA Ships Hobart and Arunta are participating as part of broader deployments to the region.
During its first stop, Stalwart hosted Timor-Leste leaders aboard for an official reception and ceremonial sunset, as well as capability demonstrations and a gender, peace and security engagement with female leaders from the Timor-Leste Armed Forces (F-FDTL) and Maritime Police Unit.
“Participating in IPE22 allows Stalwart to prove its capability and demonstrate to our friends and partners that we can provide logistic support throughout the region,” Commander McCracken said.
“The recent visit to Timor-Leste and the Tibar Port was a great experience for the ship’s company and a fantastic achievement for the ship. Over a third of the ship’s company had never made a foreign port visit with the Navy and to be able to conduct these visits following the COVID period is a highlight.”
Following its departure from Timor-Leste, Stalwart will continue its support to IPE22 with a port visit to Manila, Philippines.
Commander McCracken has high hopes for his crew.
“I hope the crew really enjoys the opportunity of the deployment, operating and integrating with allies and partners across the region while visiting new and exciting places,” he said.
“Also, I hope the crew has fun. Operational deployments is what we do and why we join, but you must have fun doing it.”