March 23, 2020 – HMAS Toowoomba exercised with French Ship Guépratte in vicinity of the Gulf of Aden recently as part of the Australian warship’s support to Combined Task Force 150.
The CTF 150 mission is to stabilise the region, and disrupt weapon and narcotic smugglers supporting terrorism.
During the exercise, Toowoomba and Guépratte conducted ship handling training including Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and Replenishment At Sea (RAS) approaches.
For Lieutenant Kate Millward, Officer of the Watch during the ship handling serials, the in-company time was a final test before being awarded her Anzac Class Frigate Bridge Warfare Certificate on completion of the serial.
“Our PASSEX was another great opportunity to practise core skills of ship handling and warfare in company with a Coalition partner.”
“There are always new things to learn about the way other nations conduct their business at sea and I’m looking forward to taking our lessons learnt into our next patrol,” Lieutenant Millward said.
Later in the afternoon, the two ships conducted a medium calibre gunnery firing to practice command and control as well as flex their gunnery skills and operations teams.
Both ships proved to be accurate and efficient with the ‘Killer Tomato’ target coming off second best.
Toowoomba proved that her award of the Otranto Shield in 2019 for the Fleet Unit that achieved the highest standard in gunnery was justly deserved.
Newly qualified Fire Control Officer (FCO), Able Seaman Electronics Technician Ben Turner enjoyed the opportunity to conduct the firing as the on watch FCO.
“After conducting two patrols on watch, it was great to get to fire the gun and get rounds down range. It’s also great to see the combat system and gun remain pin point accurate,” Able Seaman Turner said.
Following the cordial and professional interaction, both ships detached to the strains of Midnight Oil being played from the French ship, whose Captain confessed a passion for it.
“It was a wonderful afternoon spent in-company with a modern foreign warship off the coast of an unfortunately war-torn country,” Commanding Officer Toowoomba, Commander Mitchell Livingstone, said.
“Concluding the interaction with a gunnery serial really brought home the reality of why our parallel missions are so important to the region,” he added.
HMAS Toowoomba is currently deployed on Operation MANITOU in the Middle East.