May 21, 2021 – HMAS Anzac has safely returned a group of Indonesian fishermen rescued in the Indian Ocean last weekend to their home port in Bali in cooperation with the Indonesian Navy.
Anzac arrived in Indonesia early in the morning of May 21 and sailed in company with the KRI Yos Sudarso into the harbour area of Benoa outside Denpasar.
A contactless transfer of the 19 fishermen was then done in conjunction with the Indonesian patrol vessel KRI Escolar.
Originally due to return to her home port of Fleet Base West in Western Australia on May 14, Anzac was called on to conduct a search-and-rescue off the coast of Western Australia after a mayday call had been received.
The Anzac-class frigate sailed about 670 nautical miles west of Perth to help the 20 Indonesian fisherman.
They were clinging to their half-sunk vessel when they were rescued by the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuseki Maru 15. They were then taken aboard Anzac and given medical assistance and accommodation.
One fisherman was transported to a Perth hospital for urgent care by Anzac’s embarked MH-60R helicopter.
Commanding Officer Anzac Commander Brendan Horn praised the response of his crew, who were just hours away from greeting their families and friends when they answered the call for help, as well as the Indonesian fishermen, the crew of the Fukuseki Maru 15 and the civilian authorities involved in coordinating the rescue.
“This story belongs to the Indonesian fishermen; Anzac and our MH-60R Seahawk were just a small part of the response,” Commander Horn said.
“As a mariner, you have respect for other mariners.
“The Indonesian fishermen were able to get to the life rafts and then the Japanese fishing vessel the Fukuseki Maru 15 did an amazing job to rescue them.”
During the Indonesian fishermen’s transit back to Bali, they were accommodated in separate quarters to the majority of Anzac’s ship’s company.
The crew assigned to their care, including one of the ship’s two doctors, wore personal protective equipment whenever they were in contact with the fishermen.
The fishermen also each returned three negative COVID-19 test results during their time on the ship.
Commander Horn said the crew of Anzac was looking forward to returning home following the successful return of the fishermen.
“The transfer today was the final phase of the mission and it is now time for the crew of Anzac to see their families. The whole team has performed extremely well and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a great crew,” he said.