After almost five months away, HMAS Waller graciously berthed back at her home port of Fleet Base West last week. As she arrived alongside, she was welcomed by crew member’s families and members of the Submarine Force. Her return marked the end of a series of exercise engagements and port visits in Australia and Asia.
After departing Fleet Base West at the end of June, Waller visited Sydney prior to taking part in Exercise TALISMAN SABER. Then she headed to Cairns for a two week scheduled maintenance period.
After Cairns, Waller conducted port visits to Guam and Yokosuka, before participating in Exercise PACIFIC REACH. After PACIFIC REACH, the submarine headed back to Yokosuka to avoid a typhoon. Once the storm had subsided, the crew participated in follow-on activities with Japanese forces.
After leaving Yokosuka, Waller pulled into the Japanese port of Kure to avoid more typhoons. Soon after, she charted course for home and began the transit back to Fleet Base West.
Waller also utilised the deployment to further international engagement and conduct various ceremonial activities. In the Saint Georges Channel, near Papua New Guinea, Waller’s crew conducted an HMAS AE1 Memorial Service at the last known position of Australia’s first submarine – at the spot where AE1 and her crew are thought to have perished. During the same service, Waller also committed the ashes of Mr Ric Ellam (a former Royal Navy submariner) to sea, on what would have been his 86th birthday.
Commanding Officer HMAS Waller, Commander Michael Jacobson said the deployment was far from routine, with a variety of extreme weather conditions experienced.
“Waller and the crew performed extremely well throughout the duration of the deployment. We were challenged with a variety of varying situations, all of which were tackled head on with great success,” he said.
Commander Submarine Force, Captain Mark Potter, was also pleased with the performance of Waller and crew throughout her various activities.
“Waller should be justifiably proud of her achievements during a challenging deployment. She performed strongly, trained over 20 personnel in various competencies and demonstrated the capability of the Collins Class Submarine,” he said.
HMAS Waller will now undergo scheduled maintenance activities, allowing the crew some time alongside with their families.
Press Release, November 26, 2013; Image: Australian Navy