Australia: Anzac Class Frigate Hands over Maritime Operations in Middle East to HMAS Toowoomba

The 190 men and women of HMAS Stuart are returning to their home port in Sydney, after a successful six-month deployment to the Middle East conducting maritime operations as part of Operation SLIPPER.

HMAS Stuart has handed over her responsibility for maritime operations in the Middle East to Western Australia-based HMAS Toowoomba, who commenced security operations on 2 June 2011. HMAS Toowoomba’s deployment marks the 26th rotation by a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East Area of Operations since 2001.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Stuart, Commander Brett Sonter, said during her deployment, Stuart provided maritime security around the Horn of Africa, conducted counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the Gulf of Aden and supported counter-terrorism activities of coalition partners.

“I am extremely proud of the professionalism and commitment that the Ship’s Company demonstrated over the past six months,” Commander Sonter said.

“They have exceeded expectations and presented Navy as highly skilled and an essential coalition partner.”

Over the past six months, Stuart responded to more than 300 maritime enquiries and conducted 19 anti-piracy and verification boardings. She also undertook 11 approach and assist visits, participated in search and rescue operations and helped numerous vessels requiring medical or engineering assistance.

Commander Sonter said among the more notable achievements, was Stuart’s rescue of three Yemeni fishermen held hostage by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa, and the disabling, by live-fire, of an unoccupied skiff being towed by the pirated ship, Merchant Vessel Sinar Kudus.

“This is an extremely volatile maritime environment and without the unrelenting commitment of my crew, we would never have been able to successfully complete these demanding missions,” Commander Sonter said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable support of family and friends we received over the past six months. This was vital to the success of our deployment.”

HMAS Stuart will arrive back at Fleet Base East, Garden Island in Sydney on 30 June 2011.

Source: navy, June 8, 2011

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