A crowd of well-wishers have joined Prime Minister¬†Tony Abbott, Assistant Minister for DefenceStuart Robert¬†and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral¬†Ray Griggs¬†AO, CSC, RAN at Garden Island, Sydney to welcome home¬†HMAS¬†Melbourne¬†from a successful Middle East mission.
The crew of 232 spent Christmas at sea, patrolling sea lanes to provide safe passage to legitimate mariners.
Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert congratulated the ship‚Äôs company of HMAS¬†Melbourne¬†on her successful deployment, which saw her intercept more than $1 billion in illegal drugs.
‚ÄúHMAS¬†Melbourne¬†made some significant drug detections while conducting maritime security and interception operations, coordinated by the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150,‚Äù Robert said.
‚ÄúYour decisive and effective response to these maritime threats highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region, and underpins your important work in Australia‚Äôs national interest.
‚ÄúI also warmly thank all the families here today for the support you have provided to your loved ones. The crew of HMAS¬†Melbourne¬†were outstanding throughout their deployment and that was of course made possible because of the crucial support you provided to them from back here in Australia.‚Äù
Commanding Officer HMAS¬†Melbourne, Commander¬†Brian Schlegel¬†RAN said his crew lived by their ship‚Äôs motto¬†‚ÄòVires Acquirit Eundo‚Äô¬†and gathered strength as they went.
‚ÄúThe crew deserve acknowledgement for their dedication during this deployment. The boarding party and embarked S70B-2 Seahawk helicopter crew were particularly busy and were outstanding in their performance,‚Äù Commander Schlegel said.
‚ÄúWe had some notable achievements while deployed including the seizure of over half a tonne of heroin worth over $1 billion, which dealt a severe blow to those groups that use the money to fund unlawful activities.
‚ÄúThe additional seizure of almost 24 kilograms of methamphetamines and two tonnes of suspected cannabis resin, as well as the interception of nine suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, were also important to securing the maritime environment for legitimate trade.‚Äù
While deployed, HMAS¬†Melbourne¬†conducted maritime security counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic operations as part of the 30 nation Combined Maritime Force. Her deployment marked the 56th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the region since the First Gulf War.