Australia — HMAS Stuart hands over maritime operations in the 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.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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