HMAS Melbourne concludes Middle Eastern Deployment

Having seized almost a tonne of heroin and made more than 50 boarding operations, Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Melbourne is now returning home to Australia.

The guided missile frigate handed over maritime security responsibilities to sister ship, HMAS Darwin, after five months of operations in support of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and more than six months away from home.

Commander Bill Waters, Commanding Officer of Melbourne, commended the ship’s company of 223 officers and sailors for their commitment and efforts that ensured a successful deployment.

“During the five months on operations we confiscated and destroyed 977 kilograms of high grade heroin seized from five different vessels suspected of smuggling illegal narcotics,” he said.

“To put it in perspective, these drugs weighed almost as a much as a small car and had an Australian street value of around $390 million. These searches are not easy as the drugs are concealed within difficult to access compartments in small dhows and boarding teams work incredibly hard in arduous conditions to find these drugs.”

During the deployment, Melbourne patrolled more than 37,000 nautical miles, her embarked S-70B Seahawk helicopter flew 350 hours and the galley served more than 100,000 meals to keep the ship operating 24 hours per day.

Melbourne has been conducting maritime security operations with the multinational force as part of Combined Task Force 150. The ship’s operations have encompassed the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf during her deployment.

Melbourne tasking was her eighth deployment to the Middle East region and the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel to the region since 1990.