Toowoomba sails into adulthood

HMAS Toowoomba has come of age, celebrating 18 years since commissioning.

CAPTIONCommanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba Commander Darin MacDonald, left, and youngest crewmember, Seaman Jack Lefevre, cut Toowoomba’s 18th birthday cake during a regional presence deployment. Story by Story by Lieutenant Commander Andrew Herring. Photo by Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez.

In true naval tradition, the ship’s company celebrated Toowoomba reaching ‘adulthood’ with Commanding Officer Commander Darin MacDonald and the youngest crewmember on board, 19-year-old Seaman Jack Lefevre, cutting a cake using a naval sword.

The celebrations occurred while the ship was in South-East Asia as part of an Indo-Pacific regional presence deployment.

Since commissioning on October 8, 2005, Toowoomba has had many notable achievements and milestones, including six lengthy Middle East deployments between 2007 and 2020.

These deployments included significant drug seizures – 5 tonnes in 2014 and 3 tonnes in 2020 – and the rescue of a merchant ship from Somali pirates in 2009.

In 2014, Toowoomba became the first Australian warship to deploy to the Middle East region under a female commanding officer, and was the last Australian ship to deploy to the region.

Its final departure in 2020 ended the RAN’s continuous Middle East presence since before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Toowoomba became the first RAN warship to fire the MU90 torpedo in 2008, searched for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in 2014, and deployed for Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 as part of what was then the RAN’s largest task group deployment since the early 1980s.

Toowoomba has undertaken several border protection and regional presence deployments, undergone two major upgrades and, in May 2023, notched up half a million sea miles since commissioning.

Commander MacDonald said Toowoomba’s 18th birthday was cause for celebration for the crew members past and present who have upheld the ship’s motto: ‘fearless’.

“As Toowoomba’s current ship’s company, we were privileged to celebrate this important milestone in our ship’s life, but it is actually a huge congratulations to every person who has served in Toowoomba since commissioning and everyone who has enabled its achievements by supporting deployments from ashore,” Commander MacDonald said.

“And Toowoomba’s proud success story continues.”

Toowoomba is the seventh of eight Anzac-class frigates built for Australia at Victoria’s Williamstown shipyard and is the second RAN warship to carry the name, inheriting two battle honours from the WW2 corvette HMAS Toowoomba (I).

During Toowoomba’s current regional presence deployment with HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Stalwart, the ship will participate in training, exercises and other engagements with Australia’s Indo-Pacific regional partners, including activities as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour.

CAPTIONHMAS Toowoomba returns to Fleet Base West in June 2023.  File photo by Chief Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey.


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