Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) and her more than 230 crew members have returned home to Fleet Base East, Sydney, marking the end of the Navy’s largest and most challenging deployment this year.
The Air Warfare Destroyer, along with Canberra-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02), Anzac Class frigates HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) and HMAS Arunta (FFH 151), and fleet replenishment vessel HMAS Sirius (O 266), began Regional Presence Deployment (RPD) on 5 July, deploying from Darwin.
Over three months, the five-ship Task Group exercised with 11 nations across Southeast Asia, enhancing Australia’s ability to operate with partner nations during security challenges and times of humanitarian crisis. The warships also took part in the world’s largest maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), in Hawaii.
Commander of the Task Group, Captain Phillipa Hay, CSC, RAN, said the mission had been “enormously successful”, and was achieved during a pandemic through hard work and “true blue Australian strength of character”.
“We have demonstrated Australia’s ongoing commitment to the region, in good times and bad, and further developed our interoperability and cohesiveness with partner nations, maintaining a secure, stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific” Captain Hay said.
The ships achieved a number of milestones during RPD:
• They exercised with 11 regional partners, including Brunei, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Singapore, and the US;
• They conducted advanced air-sea integration drills with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the U.S. Navy in waters off Guam;
• Canberra participated in the successful search and rescue of three sailors in the Federated States of Micronesia;
• Hobart, Stuart and Arunta successfully conducted live missile firings at RIMPAC;
• Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters successfully fired Hellfire missiles at RIMPAC;
• Captain Hay became the first female to lead a Task Force in the 49-year history of RIMPAC;
• Hobart and Sirius conducted a passage exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the South China Sea; and
• Hobart and Sirius participated in the 25th iteration of Exercise SINGAROO with the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Because of the global pandemic, the ships conducted only essential logistics visits outside of Australia, resupplying and refuelling in accordance with strict COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Hobart’s Maritime Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Petrie, said extensive planning was conducted before and during the deployment to ensure the safety of all Sailors and Officers aboard.