Blue skies and sunshine were the backdrop to an emotional farewell at Garden Island for the 180 Royal Australian Navy crew of HMAS Toowoomba who left for a six-month deployment in the Middle East last Friday.
Family and friends lined Fleet Base West at HMAS Stirling to say goodbye to their loved ones who will continue Australia’s efforts in Operation Slipper.
Men and women embraced wives, husbands and partners for the final time for some time about 9am, with the hardest of goodbyes for mothers and fathers who left behind their children.
RAN Commander Australian Surface Forces, Commodore Jonathan Mead, told the crew on HMAS Toowoomba it was carrying out a significant mission for the country.
“You have worked hard to get here and your devotion to duty is indisputable,” he said.
“You have just enjoyed Christmas at home with your families, and have had time to reflect on what’s important to you.
“Now it’s time to focus on the task of conducting a safe and successful deployment.”
Once speeches and formalities were completed and Advance Australia Fair was played, Toowoomba left the dock and set sail.
The deployment of Toowoomba is the 30th rotation of RAN ships in support of coalition maritime security operations in the Middle East since September 2001.
Toowoomba will relieve HMAS Anzac, which has been involved in Operation Slipper for the past six months.
Toowoomba is due to return home to Fleet Base West in June.