Royal Australian Navy’s Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate HMAS Melbourne returned to her Sydney homeport on February 28 after 203 days of deployment and five narcotics seizures.
In the five interceptions, the frigate seized a total of 977 kg of heroin valued at approximately $390 million.
Melbourne was operating within Combined Task Force 150, which is one of three major task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Force, a 30-nation coalition based in Bahrain.
One of several task groups assigned to the combined forces, Combined Task Force 150 undertakes maritime security patrols in the region to counter maritime related terrorism and to intercept the trafficking of drugs and illicit cargoes that help fund international terrorist activities.
Around one thousand family and friends joined the Australian Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and other dignitaries, to welcome the ship’s company home from duties as part of Operation MANITOU.
“Melbourne made a significant dent in the profits of smugglers running drugs for terrorists,” Minister Payne said.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, Commander Bill Waters, said: “From the boarding teams scouring suspect vessels, to the aircrew being our eyes in the sky, right through to the cooks, who served over 100,000 meals, every member of the crew showcased what they can do and worked very hard for our successes.”
This was the Australian guided missile frigate’s eighth deployment to the Middle East region and the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1991.
Sister ship, HMAS Darwin, took over from Melbourne, continuing Australia’s commitment and provision of capability to enforce the security of the region.