HMAS Toowoomba has successfully concluded command of a multi-national exercise with Turkish Navy vessels and French Mirage fighters, contributing to maritime security in the Bab El Mandeb Strait, in the Middle East.
Exercise Scimitar Exocet was conducted between 22 and 23 July 2011 in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aden and involved Toowoomba, two Turkish Navy vessels and French Mirage fighter aircraft.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Andrew Quinn, said the exercise proved the Royal Australian Navy’s interoperability with the Turkish Navy against an air-borne attack.
“The exercise demonstrated the Combined Maritime Force’s resolve to maintain safe and unfettered access for shipping through a vital international strait,” Commander Quinn said.
“The crew honed their skills just before kicking off the exercise by responding to a real world distress call from a vessel’s crew which thought it was under attack.”
Just hours before the exercise began, Toowoomba received a call from a merchant vessel stating that it was under attack.
Toowoomba’s Seahawk helicopter was launched and, along with the ship, provided surveillance and escort support to merchant traffic.
On 23 July, Toowoomba was also afforded a unique opportunity when she engaged in advanced air warfare exercises with French Mirage fighter aircraft as part of Exercise Scimitar Exocet.
“The Middle East can be a very demanding and volatile environment in which to operate,” Commander Quinn said.
“To date, the crew of HMAS Toowoomba have risen to every challenge in a professional and committed fashion, maintaining Australia’s highly respected position as a coalition partner.”
HMAS Toowoomba is presently deployed in support of Operation SLIPPER in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), operating as part of the Combined Maritime Force (CMF).
The CMF mission includes maritime security operations in the Gulf region, the maritime environment around the Horn of Africa, and counter piracy/terrorism operations in the Gulf of Aden.
As the 26th rotation of an RAN vessel to the MEAO, Toowoomba has been on patrol supporting the CMF mission since 2 June 2011.
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