Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has farewelled the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba as it deployed to the Middle East to participate in the Combined Maritime Forces.
Attending the farewell, Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds CSC said Toowoomba and its 190 sailors would support Australia’s safe and open access to the region, and reaffirm our commitment to freedom of navigation.
"This highly capable vessel will focus on promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East by supporting counter‑terrorism, preventing piracy, and freedom of navigation," Minister Reynolds said.
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
"The importance of this deployment cannot be overstated in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean Region and is essential to the security of our nation and our economy," Minister Reynolds added.
CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional co-operation, and promoting a safe maritime environment.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO said Toowoomba’s Ship’s Company were ready for the mission following 12 months of preparation.
"Commander Mitchell Livingstone and his crew have worked tirelessly to prepare for this deployment, and will form an integral part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Force and International Maritime Security Construct," VADM Noonan said.
CMF conducts maritime security operations, counters terrorism and narcotics smuggling in maritime areas of responsibility; works with regional and other partners to improve overall security and stability; helps strengthen regional nations’ maritime capabilities and, when requested, responds to environmental and humanitarian crises.
VADM Noonan added, "We ask a lot of the men and women of Toowoomba who leave their families and friends for this deployment, but we also ask as much from those they leave behind."
CMF nations are united in their desire to protect the free flow of commerce, improve maritime security and to deter illicit activity in the CMF area of operations.
The CMF, however, does not proscribe a specific level of participation from any member nation, nor is any CMF nation asked to carry out any duty that it is unwilling to conduct. The contribution from each country, therefore, varies depending on its ability to contribute assets and the availability of those assets at any given time.
The 33 nations that comprise CMF are not bound by either a fixed political or military mandate. CMF is a flexible organisation. Contributions can vary from the provision of a liaison officer at CMF HQ in Bahrain, to the deployment of warships or maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
CMF can also call on warships not explicitly assigned to CMF to give associated support. This allows a warship to offer assistance to CMF while concurrently undertaking national tasking.
HMAS Toowoomba is the seventh of eight Anzac Class frigates built by Tenix Defence Systems at Williamstown, Victoria, for the Royal Australian Navy. The design is based on the German Meko 200 frigate.
Toowoomba is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Toowoomba's combat capabilities have been significantly improved under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade program, a world-class program that provides an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability.
The upgrade showcases Australian design and integration capability, with new phased array radar technology designed by CEA Technologies in Canberra, upgrades to combat systems performed by Saab Systems in South Australia, and platform integration design by BAE Systems in Victoria.
Toowoomba is fitted with an advanced package of air and surface surveillance radars; omni-directional hull-mounted sonar and electronic support systems that interface with the state-of-the-art 9LV453 Mk3E combat data system. The ship can counter simultaneous threats from aircraft, surface vessels and submarines.
The ship can embark Navy's latest multi-role Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, which has enhanced anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and search and rescue capabilities. Embarkation of a helicopter also provides the ship with the capability to deliver air-launched missiles and torpedoes.
HMAS Toowoomba is the second RAN ship to bear the name of Queensland’s inland city. HMAS Toowoomba (I) was one of 60 Bathurst Class minesweeping corvettes built in Australia during the Second World War as part of the Commonwealth government’s wartime shipbuilding program.