Australia — Red Demon heads to the Middle East for a fifth time

In April 2004, HMAS Mel­bourne (aka the ‘Red Demon’) returned from her fourth Mid­dle East­ern deploy­ment in eight years. Now six years, four refits and one FFG upgrade lat­er, HMAS Mel­bourne (Com­man­der Michael John Har­ris) is des­tined to return for a fifth time, in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Slip­per. When she departs Fleet Base East in August, she will be the first upgrad­ed FFG to deploy in sup­port of an oper­a­tion.

HMAS Melbourne prepares to repel boarders during an exercise
HMAS Mel­bourne pre­pares to repel board­ers dur­ing an exer­cise
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

Hav­ing suc­cess­ful­ly fired the RAN’s first SM2 in Decem­ber 2009, Mel­bourne under­went fur­ther capa­bil­i­ty enhance­ments in late April) and then filled her bunks to capac­i­ty with a keen ship’s com­pa­ny and the spe­cial­ist per­son­nel required for the Oper­a­tion Slip­perde­ploy­ment (includ­ing Flight Crews, Cryp­to­log­i­cal Lin­guists, Mine Clear­ance Divers and a Chap­lain). For the first time in years, Mel­bourne has ‘No Vacan­cy’.

So with sys­tems proven and the crew champ­ing at the bit, the last hur­dle remain­ing is a suc­cess­ful workup.

Melbourne’s workup peri­od got off to a resound­ing start with the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the Mariner Skills Eval­u­a­tion (MSE) in just three days (10–12 May) with the crew being deserved­ly proud of hav­ing passed their first pre­sen­ta­tion of a major Dam­age Con­trol exer­cise. The week con­clud­ed with an ammu­ni­tion­ing along­side Eden, with the amount of ammo tak­en on being the largest by any RAN ship since the DDG’s were in com­mis­sion.

The capa­bil­i­ty of the ship to respond to Force Pro­tec­tion inci­dents was test­ed 17–19 May, with Sea Train­ing Group pro­vid­ing very real­is­tic mul­ti-threat sce­nar­ios. The Unit Readi­ness Workup com­menced on 24 May, with the Eval­u­a­tion com­plet­ed 17–18 June. The crew is now prepar­ing for its Mis­sion Readi­ness Workup in July, which will fur­ther refine the ship’s company’s skills to react to pos­si­ble activ­i­ties in the Mid­dle East.

It seems fit­ting that in the same year Mel­bourne cel­e­brat­ed her 18th birth­day she will also come of age by leav­ing her Fleet Base East home and face the chal­lenges of a deploy­ment in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Slip­per. In true def­er­ence to her mot­to, ‘Vires Acquir­it Eun­do’ (She Gath­ers Strength as She Goes), Mel­bourne has gath­ered strength for six years and final­ly, gets to go….once Sea Train­ing Group are done of course.

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