The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba has successfully completed its first patrol in the Middle East region as part of the six-month deployment in support of Operation Manitou.
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Toowoomba was assigned to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in support of international efforts to maintain freedom of navigation, international law and the free flow of commerce in the Middle East region.
The Anzac Class frigate will support the IMSC 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).
Over a two-week period, Toowoomba provided overwatch for more than 35 IMSC supported vessels and flew more than 25 sorties with her embarked MH-60R maritime helicopter, providing surveillance and security for merchant shipping passing through the area.
Commanding Officer, Commander Mitchell Livingstone said that Toowoomba was the first Australian warship to join the IMSC.
"We were tasked to conduct Operation SENTINEL duties that promoted the safe passage of commercial shipping through the Strait of Hormuz. The ship split the patrol between the Southern Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and provided an overt presence and overwatch in the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz," CMDR Livingstone said.
During the patrol, Toowoomba conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) with the US Navy’s USNS Supply, to top up fuel supplies.
"USNS Supply is the largest oiler Toowoomba has ever replenished with her bulk and scale approximately four times that of Toowoomba, yielding an impressive sight for our crew," CMDR Livingstone 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.
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 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.