HMAS Melbourne Heads for Operation SLIPPER

HMAS Melbourne Heads for Operation SLIPPER

Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Melbourne set sail for a six-month operational deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations.

Family and friends of the 234 strong ship’s company gathered at Garden Island, Sydney, to farewell the Adelaide Class Frigate as she departed for Operation SLIPPER duties.

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, Commander Australian Surface Forces, Commodore Jonathan Mead and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon bid the ship safe passage.

A recent change of command has seen Commander Brian Schlegel, formerly Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin, assume command of Melbourne.  He said he was looking forward to leading a fine team of men and women. 

“My ship’s company are a well-oiled machine.  They have put in many hours of rigorous training under the fine leadership of Commander Fonhof.  This has prepared us for all the tasks that we may be asked to complete while assigned as part of multinational Combined Maritime Forces.”

“While it will be tough to be without our loved ones over the Christmas and New Year period, my crew are excited to be doing our part to protect sea lanes for trade while deterring illegal traffic and piracy,” said Commander Schlegel.

Operation Slipper is the Australian Defence Force contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security.

While deployed, Melbourne will conduct maritime security and interception operations in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Horn of Africa region and Arabian Gulf, patrolling the strategically important Bab Al Mandeb strait between Yemen and Eritrea, and the Strait of Hormuz. 

Melbourne’s role will include ensuring maritime security in the Gulf and around the Horn of Africa. This will include counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Melbourne’s deployment represents the 56th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East Area of Operations since 1990. When she arrives in the MEAO, she’ll relieve HMAS Newcastle from Operation SLIPPER duties.

Press Release, August 26, 2013; Image: Australian Navy