HMAS Perth set sail from the HMAS Stirling base at Garden Island near Rockingham on her maiden deployment to the Middle East on today .
The ship is scheduled to return from its six-month deployment just before Christmas, bringing an early present for the friends and family of its 192 crew.
The Perth’s Commanding Officer Captain Ivan Ingham said it was a landmark day for everyone involved.
“It’s always mixed feelings when we’re departing,” he said.
“We’ve got the excitement of the mission ahead, going to do the job that we’ve been training so hard for but saying farewell to your families, which is pretty tough.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, it’s still tough.”
Capt Ingham said the atmosphere on board was “electric”, saying his crew were more than ready for the task.
The Perth will be the 63rd Royal Australian Navy fleet to visit the area since 1990, but it will be the first to do so with the anti-ship missile defence upgrade.
The upgrade is not the only new toy on board with the new MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk also set to play a part in Australia’s efforts to help stabilise the region as part of Operation Manitou, Australia’s contribution to counter terrorism, counter piracy and narcotics control within the region.
Leading Seamen clearance diver Scott Caldwell said he was excited to be deployed but said his family would never be far from his mind.
“There’s mixed emotions, the excitement of deploying but then to leave three young kids at home (is hard),” he said.
The clearance diver said he had sat down and spoken to his kids, but chose to focus on the positives of being away serving his country.
“It’s more about when you come home and going on a holiday when I get back, going shopping overseas for them and also talking to them about why we’re doing it, about counter terrorism and protecting the country,” he said.
HMAS Perth is relieving HMAS Darwin as it returns from a successful operation.
The Darwin was part of a taskforce which seized more than $800 million worth of heroin in May.
HMAS Perth should return by early December.