HMAS Melbourne has departed her home port of Fleet Base East bound for a seven month deployment to the South West Pacific and North East Asia.
The ship’s company were enthusiastically joined by family and friends in a fond farewell to the frigate at Garden Island, Sydney. Melbourne’s deployment will include participation in the second iteration of Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Exercise KAKADU in Australia’s north and a variety of port visits and community engagement in the North East Asian region. She will also take part in one of the world’s largest multinational maritime exercises Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in the Hawaiian archipelago where she will put her potent task group screening capabilities to the test.
Commanding Officer, HMAS Melbourne, Commander Marcus Buttler said his crew were well prepared and excited for the task ahead.
“The ship’s company are a well-trained, capable, professional, high performing team who have worked tirelessly to prepare for this deployment,” he said as he addressed the gathering of well-wishers there to farewell their loved ones.
“But the support of the families and friends who are here today is an essential factor in their future successes.
“You are as much a part of Team Melbourne as the ship’s company behind me.”
Leading Seaman Combat Systems Operator Thomas Jeffery will be deploying for the first time since becoming a father to two boys-three year old Jack and six month old George.
“I don’t know how the kids will deal with me being away, but I will be sending them regular photos, and of course look forward to speaking to them every chance I get,” he said.
“George will be walking by the time I get home, and I look forward to getting back and running around with both of them.”
Karen Charleston travelled to Sydney from Tasmania to farewell her son, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Personnel Steven Colbeck, who is deploying for the second time.
“We travel up from Tasmania for every departure and return because we are enormously proud of what Steven is doing,” she said.
“His grandfather was in the Navy and his father served in both the Army and the Air Force, so he has a strong military heritage.
“Even though this is not his first departure it is a bit sad. I will probably cry a little. I can’t wait to see him come home again.”