A MARRIAGE proposal was one of the highlights at the homecoming of HMAS Perth to Fleet Base West following a six-month deployment today.
Able Seaman Cameron Duggan had arranged a banner to be unfurled as the ship approached the wharf, asking his girlfriend Pip Garvey to marry him.
Upon seeing the sign she yelled “yes” to him with the ship’s company erupting in a loud cheer.
AB Duggan said he was quietly confident that Pip would say yes.
And the ship’s company observed a minutes’ silence at 11am to commemorate Remembrance Day before sailing into HMAS Stirling.
They also paid tribute to the Aussie Hero Quilts organisation, which had sent more than 160 quilts during its deployment to let the crew know that people were thinking of them back home.
In recognition of their efforts, the crew raised about $4000 for the organisation and flew its patron Jan-Maree Ball to Perth to see the ship of the same name return home.
Warrant Officer Cheryl Collins said it meant a lot to receive the quilts while deployed for such a long period of time.
The ship was returning from Operation Manitou, patrolling the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean to counter terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling.
Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer said HMAS Perth had served as part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces and had been at the forefront of maritime security.
“This fosters trade and commerce and is crucial to our nation’s economic interests,” he said.
Although the ship did not catch any offenders on the high seas, Rear Admiral Mayer said it played a vital role in keeping waterways safe.
HMAS Perth commanding officer Captain Ivan Ingham said the ship’s company had had a busy year, preparing and training for the deployment and completing its mission.
“As the first anti-ship missile defence upgraded Anzac to be operationally deployed and being equipped with a new Seahawk Romeo combat helicopter, we have set the precedent for all future operations of the Anzac class,” Captain Ingham said.
“HMAS Perth has been a considerable deterrent to all smugglers looking to move illicit cargo during this typically quiet period.
“We were in the right place at the right time and prepared to respond to any emergent situations.”
It was the first time HMAS Perth had been deployed to the Middle East and patrolled more than 25,000 nautical miles since leaving Rockingham on June 7.