HMAS Toowoomba has returned to her home port at Fleet Base West, Western Australia, following a successful deployment on Operation Manitou.

Despite family and friend numbers on the wharf limited because of social distancing requirements, the Navy band played a medley of welcome-home tunes as she came alongside.

On arrival at Parkes Wharf, Toowoomba’s Commanding Officer Commander Dylan Phillips paid tribute to his crew’s professionalism and resilience over the past six months.

“Their ability to continue the mission, keep focused and operate at a high level of proficiency throughout the deployment has been exceptional,” Commander Phillips said.

“As a crew, we have overcome a number of challenges thrown our way and today represents the culmination of that hard work.

“There is a considerable sense of satisfaction throughout the ship and we have all looked forward to returning home to our loved ones.”

Toowoomba’s navigation officer Lieutenant Brett Tucker said while all deployments present difficulties, Toowoomba’s deployment was particularly challenging.

Toowoomba’s crew has spent the past 119 days at sea without having the usual chance of taking some time off during a port visit,” Lieutenant Tucker said.

“Without the steadfast support of the families and friends of the crew over the past five months, what has been a trying time for everyone would have been significantly more difficult.”

Able Seaman maritime logistics chef Shaun Redgrave said his first operational deployment wasn’t what he expected when the ship sailed in January 2020.

He said the maritime logistics department was significantly impacted by the global situation, with a requirement to provide three meals a day to the ship’s company without the usual in-port downtime.

“However, morale throughout the ship remained high thanks to the many activities offered on board, such as fitness competitions, darts and other games,” Able Seaman Redgrave said.

“This definitely helped to boost morale.” 

Operation Manitou is the ADF’s enduring contribution to support international efforts that promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.

HMAS Toowoomba shared tasking between the Combined Maritime Force conducting counter-narcotics operations as part of Task Force 150, and maritime security operations in the Straits of Hormuz with the International Maritime Security Construct.

During the deployment, Toowoomba seized more than 3000 kilograms of illegal narcotics during boarding operations.