Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has returned to her home port of Fleet Base West in Rockingham, Western Australia, after completing a three month deployment to South East Asia which included participation in exercise Talisman Saber off the Australian coast.
The deployment, which began in early April, was part of the Australian government’s efforts to promote regional stability and improve interoperability between regional partners and included port visits to Zhanjiang, Singapore, Sattahip, Bangkok, Da Nang and Kota Kinabalu.
Ballarat’s commanding officer, Commander Paul Johnson said that the deployment facilitated great opportunities to enhance the Royal Australian Navy’s interoperability with regional partners, to further develop trust and friendship between navies and to showcase the Royal Australian Navy’s professionalism to the region.
“Our involvement in important regional exercises such as Bersama Shield and Austhai are fundamental to our strong and ongoing defence relationships with our partners in the region,” Commander Johnson said.
“The great work by my team in Ballarat has allowed us to conduct several successful port visits and to execute a number of complex exercises with a wide range of countries and ultimately achieved the goal of improving interoperability with regional partners and enhancing the reputation of the Royal Australian Navy,” he said.
The visits provided an opportunity for the officers and crew of Ballarat to host and participate in a variety of events such as official receptions, cross-decks, sporting competitions, outings to tourist locations and local school visits.
The port visits also allowed for the conduct of planning meetings associated with Ballarat’s participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises. These included the primary Five Powers Defence Arrangement Exercise Bersama Shield (which consisted of air and maritime forces from Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom) and the bilateral Austhai exercise held in the Gulf of Thailand between Australia and the Royal Thai Navy.
In the four months away, Ballarat traveled 18,499 nautical miles, her embarked MH-60R helicopter flew more than 195 hours and the Maritime Logistics department served up more than 68,000 meals.