HMAS Perth on task in the Middle East

HMAS Perth has notched up more-than 10,000 nautical miles since leaving Australia on 7 June, and Commanding Officer, Captain Ivan Ingham, said his crew has now settled in to their Middle East deployment.

“The first phase was getting to the Middle East region and on the way we travelled via Indonesia and Sri Lanka interacting with their defence forces,” Captain Ingham said.

“While in Indonesia we performed a commemorative wreath laying service at the site of where HMAS Perth I and USS Houston sank during the Second World War,” he said

“It was an immensely significant event for us as we place a special emphasis on maintaining our ties with all members associated with Perth, past and present, as well as enjoying close links with our US Navy brethren.

“While in Sri Lanka we hosted their Chief of Navy, senior officers and completed an exercise with their Flag Ship. Additionally, our Boarding Party conducted a joint exercise with the Sri Lankans.”

On arrival in Bahrain, the crew received deployment briefs from Combined Task Force 150 before setting out on their first patrol.

Perth has travelled from the North Arabian Sea, along the coast of Oman and Yemen into the Gulf of Aden.

“We were supposed to do replenishment at sea with a German Ship, but the weather conditions prevented it,” Captain Ingham said.

“Given our patrol plan, it was essential therefore we had to activate the back up plan which saw us link up with the United States Navy Ship, USNS Arctic to receive fuel.

“From there we went down the coast of Somalia to arrive at Tanzania, which took us 16 days for the first patrol.”

Captain Ingham said the monsoon season was having an effect on illicit traffic levels throughout the region.

“Even the largest dhows do not want to be at sea in these weather conditions,” he said.

“Our presence still acts as deterrence and shows our commitment to the region, two aspects of our mission which are vitally important.

“We our first patrol to hone our training and gather data to determine current vessel traffic patterns, which places us in a good position for our second patrol.

“Sailors have to be confident in safely and effectively operating in demanding weather conditions. This time of year it’s been challenging, as we are experiencing the Indian Ocean South-West monsoon season,”
Captain Ingham said.

Perth’s arrival in the Middle East region also marks the first operational deployment of Australia’s MH-60R Seahawk.

“The aircraft brings with it a whole array of impressive capabilities, such as a superb surveillance suite, Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and a new 50-Cal machine gun for self defence and force protection,” Captain Ingham said.

Captain Ingham is positive about what Perth will achieve for the remainder of the deployment

“The remainder of the second phase of our deployment will bring us plenty of opportunities for tactical and operational success,” he said.

“We are also planning to conduct a major anti-submarine warfare exercise with our coalition partners, leading us into a maintenance period in September.

“The third and final phase of our deployment will involve us completing our operational patrols before we head home to Australia towards the end of this year.”