23 September 2009
HMAS Toowoomba will patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden, the Somalia Basin and the Horn of Africa. (photo : Navalassoc)
HMAS Toowoomba will be the first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship to join the US-led Combined Task Force combating piracy off the Horn of Africa.
Toowoomba will patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden, the Somalia Basin and the Horn of Africa - a new mission for the RAN operating in the Middle East.
Chief of Joint Operations Command, LTGEN Mark Evans, said HMAS Toowoomba's involvement in the operation was an important contribution towards countering piracy.
"As an ANZAC-class frigate, HMAS Toowoomba will provide a major deterrent presence.
"Other tasks will include escorting merchant shipping in the maritime corridors of the Gulf of Aden, as well as tracking and reporting on any piracy situations," LTGEN Evans said.
"The ship's crew have trained for these taskings and I have no doubt they will excel in this important operation."
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Ivan Ingham, said he and his crew were eager to provide support and assistance in providing security to the merchant vessels in the region.
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Navy Disarms Pirates
23 September - HMAS Toowoomba has successfully stopped a piracy attack by conducting a boarding of a suspect vessel off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden.
After receiving an emergency call for assistance from the Merchant Vessel BBC Portugal, HMAS Toowoomba immediately responded by moving to the scene at high speed to investigate and provide assistance.
The Commander of HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Ivan Ingham, launched a boarding team to investigate the suspected vessel.
“The quick response by HMAS Toowoomba and the coalition helicopter ensured that the incident did not escalate into a direct attack on the merchant vessel,” Commander Ingham said.“Further, the ships’ presence in very close proximity to the scene ensured that the persons suspected of planning acts of piracy were not able to resist the arrival of our boarding party and ensured that our teams were able to conduct a thorough and effective search.”
The search of the suspect vessel revealed a cache of weapons including a Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher (RPG), six AK47 Assault Rifles, a G3 Assault Rifle and a large quantity of ammunition.
Routine questioning of the persons suspected of planning acts of piracy by Toowoomba’s boarding party confirmed that the occupants of the suspect vessel were from nearby Somalia.
“With the incident averted and the threat removed, we directed them to depart from the shipping lanes of the International Recommended Transit Corridor and sent them back to where they came from,” Commander Ingham said.
HMAS Toowoomba is now continuing with counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden region.
Australia’s contribution to international counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa includes three embedded staff officers at the Coalition Force Maritime Component Command Headquarters, two RAAF AP-3C maritime patrol aircraft and the Anzac Class frigate, HMAS Toowoomba.