HMAS Arunta returned to Fleet Base East on April 5 after a three-month regional presence deployment to South-East and North Asia, which included port visits where the crew could go ashore.

During the deployment, Arunta took part in Exercise Milan 2022, a multinational exercise involving 46 navies from around the world with 13 fleet units participating in the sea phase.

The theme of this year’s exercise hosted by the Indian Navy was Camaraderie, cohesion and collaboration.

Commanding Officer of Arunta, Commander Samuel Woolrych, said Exercise Milan was a highlight of the deployment.

“The exercise itself was impressive, with a huge number of ships and aircraft from around the world participating, but it was the fact that Arunta’s sailors were able to proceed ashore and experience India that will last in our memories,” Commander Woolrych said.

“It’s been a few years since the RAN has been able to go ashore overseas but this visit showed that we can minimise any risk presented by COVID-19 and deliver on both our mission and getting our people ashore.”

The deployment included port visits to Sembawang in Singapore, Vishakhapatnam on the east coast of India, Darwin and Cairns.

Friends and family welcome home HMAS Arunta. Photo: Leading Seaman Leo Baumgartner

Arunta also conducted a number of navy-to-navy engagements with various regional partners. Cross-decking was undertaken with USS Fitzgerald and an Indian Navy sail training ship to allow personnel to experience life in a different navy and increase their understanding of how regional partners operate.

Arunta conducted a replenishment at sea, taking fuel from INS Shakti and also exercised with the Republic of Singapore Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Republic of Korea Navy.

On the way back to Fleet Base East, Arunta conducted a port visit to Cairns and personnel engaged with a number of community groups, hosted cadets from TS Endeavour, supported tours for potential RAN recruits and welcomed participants of the Navy Indigenous Development Program on board. 

Commander Woolrych said he was proud of the manner in which his ship’s company conducted this important deployment.

“Throughout this period, the ship’s company worked diligently and approached each tasking with a professional, positive and confident attitude. I couldn’t be more proud of their performance,” he said.

He also paid tribute to the families of Arunta’s ship’s company for their support over the past three months.

“I would like to thank the families and friends of the ship’s company who have remained steadfast and supportive of their loved ones over the course of the deployment,” Commander Woolrych said.

“Without this support from home, Arunta’s ship’s company wouldn’t have been able to do the job they did over the course of the past three months.”

During the deployment, the ship steamed 16,236 nautical miles and used 1,931,160L of fuel. Personnel conducted more than 100 hours of helicopter operations and more than 100 helicopter deck landings and ate 40,680 individual meals.

More photos can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.