MARITIME COUNTER PIRACY forces from around the globe, including the Australian Navy, continue to operate in the Indian Ocean to deter potential pirates. As one hardworking ship from Australia, HMAS Newcastle, leaves to return home for some well deserved time off, she has been immediately replaced by another team onboard HMAS Melbourne.
The ship’s company of HMAS Melbourne were welcomed to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 by the Commodore Jeremy Blunden Royal Navy, Commander of the task force, during a meeting at sea.
Commander Brian Schlegel Royal Australian Navy, Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, hosted a team from the flagship, the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria, to discuss the current piracy threat and ways in which the task force will deter and disrupt the potential pirates in the region.
Commodore Blunden said: “HMAS Newcastle worked tirelessly over the past months to engage with the local maritime community and show our global resolution to combat the piracy problem. This is echoed by the new team onboard HMAS Melbourne who are well prepared for this important mission and ready to carry on the same good work as her predecessor.”
Commander Schlegel said: “HMAS Melbourne enjoyed hosting Commodore Blunden and his staff, which provided the Melbourne’s command team with a unique understanding of the operational environment, and we look forward to working with CTF151.”
Whilst the team from the flagship visited HMAS Melbourne some of her sailors visited RFA Fort Victoria and spent time learning how a replenishment ship conducts her business. They were taken on a tour of the ship and met members of the crew, who were able to show them the replenishment equipment that was later used to provide fuel to HMAS Melbourne.
Able Seaman Luke Luong said: “It was refreshing to see a ship from another Navy and to compare the Australian Navy systems and procedures to the Royal Navy. It is clear that we stem from the same naval heritage.”
CTF 151 is responsible for deterring and disrupting piracy and helping to build the regional capacity in a huge area covering 2.5 million square kilometres (1.1 million miles). The task force is part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a professional, multinational naval partnership comprising 29 nations, who focus on maritime security operations and work together to deny the use of the seas for piracy or other illegal activity.
HMAS Melbourne’s arrival in the Middle East marks the 56th rotation of a ship of the Royal Australian Navy to the region since the beginning of the Gulf War in 1990. During her six month deployment the frigate will contribute to the international campaign against piracy as part of CTF 151 and against terrorism, drugs and weapon smuggling as part of CTF 150.
RFA Fort Victoria is a Fort Class combined fleet stores ship and tanker of the RFA, primarily tasked with providing fuel supplies to international vessels around the CMF area of operations under Combined Task Force 53, the logistics task force.