HMAS Toowoomba Visits Seychelles

HMAS Toowoomba Visits Seychelles

HMAS Toowoomba is assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) mission to provide security and stability to vital sea lanes inside the Middle East Area of Operations. At the heart of it, Toowoomba has been tasked with stopping the transit of illegal narcotics, weapons and to act as a deterrent to piracy within the region.

As they say, all work and no play is no good for anyone, let alone the 192 sailors and officers on board the 118 metre-long warship. So, with that in mind a Port visit to the Seychelles was approved.

Before the Sailors could enjoy their time ashore, the vessel had to manoeuvre into the tiny port, the task requiring careful planning and a delicate touch from the officers on the bridge.

Once safely moored, the ship’s dive team conducted a safety and security dive around the vessel, all part of the ship’s standard operating procedures.

Fresh food and stores were also taken aboard, a human chain forming up to take on the massive load of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and other perishables.

This visit was more than just rest and recreation. Every crew member while ashore was part of a vital ‘hearts and mind’ strategy which is proving successful in this Area of Operations according to Commander Brendon Zilko, Commanding Officer HMAS Toowoomba.

“Like everywhere, the Australian military has a long and distinguished history in this region, and certainly in this part of the world they appreciate the Australians rocking in. We went into Mombassa, Kenya the other week. It was the first time in over 20 years that an Australian ship had been there and some of the locals still remembered Australians coming in back then,” said Commander Zilko.

Toowoomba’s skipper said his crew had endured a long stint at sea, and that his sailors and officers were deserving of their time ashore.

“A lot has been thrown at them, a lot of changing programs, that sort of stuff. They have responded exceptionally well – I’m very proud of their efforts,” Commander Zilko said.

Australia’s contribution to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) mission will be ongoing with HMAS Newcastle set to relieve Toowoomba and her crew at the end of May.

Naval Today Staff, April 30, 2013; Image: Australian Navy