Smiles and tears for returning crew of HMAS Toowoomba

HMAS Toowoomba fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow missile in the Pacific Missile Range Facility near the island of Kaua'i during Exercise RIMPAC 2018.
HMAS Toowoomba fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow missile in the Pacific Missile Range Facility near the island of Kaua'i during Exercise RIMPAC 2018.

THERE was a proud homecoming on the weekend for the crew of HMAS Toowoomba as she returned for a well-earned rest after a seven-month deployment.

HMAS Toowoomba crew received an enthusiastic and sometimes teary welcome from the hundreds of family and friends gathered on the wharf at Fleetbase West on Saturday to greet them.

The longest trip of its kind for the ship, she visited ports around Australia and internationally including: Guam, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Vanuatu, the United States, and Solomon Islands.

One of it’s exercises, dubbed Exercise RIMPAC 2018 (Exercise Rim of the Pacific), is a biennial military training exercise aimed at strengthening international maritime partnerships and ensuring readiness of participating forces for a wide range of potential scenarios.

An MRH-90 helicopter from HMAS Adelaide collects stores (28 pallets of food) to transfer to HMAS Toowoomba.

It is the world’s largest maritime exercise involving 25,000 personnel from 25 countries.

It was held from June 27 – August 2 in Hawaii and off the coast of California.

Commanding Officer Mitchell Livingstone said Toowoomba supported an extensive series of exercises, international engagements and training activities.

“I’m extremely proud of my ship’s company and the professionalism they displayed over the course of this highly successful deployment,” he said.

“Toowoomba has participated in three exercises, the gruelling Principal Warfare Officer Assessment Week, and two regional deployments to engage with our regional partners and further Australia’s interests abroad.”

“The commitment shown by the ship’s company has allowed us to do much this year, with highlights being our role as Commander of the Exercise Bersama Shield Task Group Maritime Component and the multiple weapons and missile firings we conducted at Exercise Rim of the Pacific.

“We have undertaken active roles within every sphere of maritime warfare and we have honed our skills in a real-time environment to ensure we are prepared to respond to any contingency,” Commander Livingstone said.

Toowoomba has clocked an impressive 40,125 nautical miles, more than 74,000km, or 1.85 times around the world on all its voyages to date.