HMAS Parramatta Secures Middle East Area of Operation


For many, filling up the tank at their local petrol station would have no connection to the Royal Australian Navy. Most Australians would not realise that some of the goods they purchase at the supermarket and the fuel they consume has been provided safe passage to our shores by Australian sailors deployed to the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).

The Royal Australian Navy ANZAC frigate HMAS Parramatta is currently on her fourth rotation to the MEAO as part of Operation Slipper and is the 27th Royal Australian Navy ship to deploy since 2001. HMAS Parramatta is captained by Commander Guy Blackburn and is deployed to the MEAO as part of the Australian contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces, working under various United Nations Security Council Resolutions to provide maritime security and counter terrorism support in the Gulf and Horn of Africa region and as part of the international commitment to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Just 2 months into a 6 month deployment, HMAS Parramatta has conducted maritime security operations in the Gulf Region and the Horn of Africa, conducted counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the Gulf of Aden and supported a number of counter terrorism activities.

The 191 strong crew celebrated Christmas in the Gulf of Aden, where spirits were high after receiving Christmas gifts and well wishes from loved ones in Australia. However celebrations were brief as, even on Christmas Day and throughout the holiday period, operations did not cease and the crew remained vigilant to their task of providing security to the strategic waterways in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa region.

Commander Guy Blackburn described the importance of HMAS Parramatta’s mission to Australian households.

“HMAS Parramatta is up in the Middle East providing maritime security operations and maritime interception,” he said.

“Simply put, this means we are up in the Middle East keeping the ‘sea lanes, free lanes’. We’re making sure that all the mariners and the trade of the world can get through safely, so that everybody at home can get all their goods and that all the merchant mariners are kept safe,” said CMDR Blackburn.

The HMAS Parramatta left Sydney in late September and now, almost halfway through its deployment, is close to clocking up 15000 nautical miles.

“The deployment so far has been very rewarding, everybody enjoys doing active service, this is what we train for and it’s the pinnacle of our careers to be able to be up here , doing our job at sea,”.

Whilst it is never easy to be apart from families and friends, especially over Christmas time, the crew of HMAS Parramatta remain firmly focused on the importance of maintaining security throughout the strategic waterways of the world and the Straits of Hormuz, ensuring that millions of barrels of oil are transported through those sea lanes.

“This is a very important task that we are doing,” added Blackburn.

Leading Seaman Dwayne Cocks, an aircraft controller on the HMAS Parramatta describes this deployment as a career highlight.

“The most rewarding part to me is controlling foreign military aircraft and coalition aircraft around the sky as the aircraft controller. Under the direction of the Operations Officer, we all work together to achieve a specific aim,” he said.

HMAS Parramatta will handover to HMAS Melbourne in March 2012 before returning home to Sydney for a much deserved break.

Naval Today Staff , January 06, 2012;