Commander Catherine Hayes became the first woman in the Royal Australian Navy to command a warship into the region, and departed from the Garden Island base last Monday.
Deployed as part of Operation MANITOU, Toowoomba relieved HMAS Darwin to provide maritime support to international efforts to counter and deter terrorism and the trade of narcotics on the seas.
Defence Minister Senator David Johnston congratulated Commander Hayes and said her appointment was another step in the right direction in providing leadership roles and opportunities for women in the Australian Defence Force.
‘I hope this deployment acts as an inspiration for all women currently serving, as well as for young women considering a career in the navy or in the wider Australian Defence Force,’ he said.
‘Commander Hayes and her crew will be carrying out arduous and often dangerous work supporting counter-piracy and counter narcotics operations in the Middle East.’
Federal member for Brand Gary Gray also praised Commander Hayes and hailed her appointment as a milestone in Australia’s defences.
‘I am pleased to see promotion on the basis of ability rather than people being held back on the basis of gender,’ Mr Gray said.
‘I wish all (Toowoomba’s) servicemen and women the very best as they bravely carry out dangerous work on behalf of all Australians, and I know they will do us proud.’