Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced that HMAS Toowoomba has arrived in Bahrain and commenced operations in the Middle East as part of Operation MANITOU.
The Anzac Class frigate will also support the International Maritime Security Construct in its mission to ensure freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz and continue Australia’s longstanding effort with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said HMAS Toowoomba would play a vital role alongside coalition partners and perform key roles such as counterterrorism, preventing piracy and ensuring freedom of navigation.
“Under the International Maritime Security Construct, HMAS Toowoomba will work with a range of international partners to monitor and deter destabilising activity and support the safe passage of commercial and civilian shipping in the Middle East region,” Minister Reynolds explained.
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.
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.
Commander of Combined Task Force 150 Commodore Ray Leggatt said Toowoomba’s professional and motivated crew is looking forward to working in direct support of CTF 150.
“Royal Australian Navy vessels have a successful history working with CTF 150 on previous deployments and I am confident that this deployment will be no different,” CDRE Leggatt said.
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.
This will be the RAN’s 68th deployment to the Middle East Region since 1990 and the sixth mission for HMAS Toowoomba.
On her way to Bahrain, HMAS Toowoomba conducted a transit of the Strait of Hormuz with the United Kingdom Royal Navy’s HMS Defender.