Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba is returning home after completing a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

Toowoomba has concluded her assignment to Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) as part of Operation Manitou, conducting counter-terrorism and maritime security operations while patrolling the waters stretching from the Southern Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

Commander JTF633 Major General Susan Coyle recognised its outstanding performance during trying times amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ship’s company in Toowoomba have executed their duties to the highest standard in support of the Combined Maritime Forces and as the inaugural Australian ship in support of the International Maritime Security Construct,” Major General Coyle said.

“They have earned a joyful reuniting with their families and friends, and I thank them for their service.” 

The ship made a significant intercept during deployment, netting more than 3000 kilograms of illegal narcotics.

Commanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba Commander Dylan Phillips said he was proud of his crew’s achievements.

“We have enhanced our relationships in the region, as well as having an impact on terrorist funding lines through the interception and disposal of illegal drugs,” Commander Phillips said.

Toowoomba intercepted an illegal shipment of hashish and heroin hidden inside a suspect vessel on March 19. 

“Our crew worked tirelessly throughout the day and well into the night to search the vessel before seizing and destroying over three tons of drugs.

“The mission has been highly successful due to our ship’s capability and the commitment of our highly trained crew over a sustained period on operations. 

“I could not be prouder of everyone’s effort.” 

The ship travelled more than 27,450 nautical miles and visited numerous ports during deployment before the impact of COVID-19. 

Its efforts supported the safe passage of more than 180 International Maritime Security Construct-flagged merchant vessels by providing overwatch of their transits through the Southern Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.

Video of Toowoomba on patrol in the Middle East region can be seen at: https://youtu.be/XNdanmuAfKg