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February 3, 2011
FEATURE PIR ATE BUSTER
TOA ST OF THE FLEET
BIRD'S EYE VIEW: A load-
master aboard a Seahawk
watches HMAS Melbourne
prepare to receive the
helicopter during counter-
piracy operations off the
coast of Somalia.
Photo: SGT Neil Ruskin
TEAMWORK: The flight crew of HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk that
flew "overwatch" of MV CPO China during an attack by pirates in
the Arabian Sea. Standing from left: LEUTs Andrew Clyne and Matt
Schroder, LCDR Nigel Rowan and LEUT Matt Hudson.
In front: LS Glenn Watson (left) and LS Scott Gordon.
HMAS Melbourne will soon return to
Fleet Base East after a successful
deployment on Operation Slipper where
she played an integral role combating
piracy in the Middle East.
Michael Brooke reports.
(CMDR Michael Harris)
reinforced her enviable
reputation as the best
warship in the RAN in 2010 when
she came to the rescue of a tanker
that was boarded by pirates in the
ing feat on January 3 fol-
lowed the announcement of the
2010 Fleet Proficiency Awards,
which saw her awarded two of
the top prizes -- the Gloucester
Cup and the Spada Shield (see
The excellence of Melbourne's
ship's company was evident when
the Adelaide-class FFG steamed to
the aid of the UK-flagged chemical
tanker MV CPO China, which had
been boarded by pirates.
When alerted to the incident,
Melbourne was about 267km north
of MV CPO China but was able to
cover that distance in just over six
hours, largely through the efforts
of her hard-working engineer-
ing department and other unsung
While steaming to the aid of
the tanker, Melbourne's Seahawk
helicopter launched and was able
to deter the pirates from attempt-
ing to take control of the ship. As a
result, the pirates aborted the attack
and left the vessel when Melbourne
arrived on the scene.
The crew of MV CPO China
had successfully secured them-
selves in the ship's citadel (an anti-
pirate stronghold) from where they
could maintain satellite communi-
cations and control the ship.
The skipper of MV CPO
China, Claus Peter Offen, praised
Melbourne in a letter to CMDR
"Please allow me to express
my sincere gratitude for the action
you and the entire crew of HMAS
Melbourne have taken to save my
vessel from a pirate assault," he
"We know this incident could
have had a disastrous outcome.
Your prompt and swift reaction to
the distress call of the ship was a
great relief to all people on board
MV CPO China and the shore staff
"It is reassuring to experience
once again that the brotherhood of
sea is still a strong bond among civ-
ilised nations and goes way beyond
just fulfilling duties."
Then-commander of Joint Task
Force 633 MAJGEN John Cantwell,
who recently handed over command
to MAJGEN Angus Campbell, also
praised Melbourne, saying "this is a
terrific example of how Australia's
maritime contribution to the MEAO
provides another layer of security
for the region and to the conduct of
trade and suppression of criminal
"One of our objectives for oper-
ations in the Middle East is to assist
the efforts of the international com-
munity in reducing acts of piracy,"
"Our men and women aboard
Melbourne deserve recognition for
their role in providing maritime
security and countering piracy in
the Arabian Sea. This is one of
those occasions where their efforts
have become highly visible."
Melbourne's final hours
ON HER final day assigned
to Operation Slipper, HMAS
Melbourne continued her impor-
tant work securing vital sea lanes
Hours before handing over mari-
time security tasks in the MEAO to
HMAS Stuart (CMDR Brett Sonter),
Melbourne was called upon to assist
a merchant vessel in distress.
On January 18 MV Tide reported
that she was being harassed by a
pirate mothership and two skiffs.
The merchant vessel requested
Melbourne responded and
altered her course to steam to the
aid of MV Tide, simultaneously
sending her Seahawk helicopter
ahead to investigate the situation.
Fortunately, MV Tide was able
to conduct evasive manoeuvres and
escape the pirates within about an
hour of her initial distress call.
The merchant vessel's actions
successfully negated the pirate
attack, allowing Melbourne and her
helicopter to return to patrolling
duties without further incident for
her last few hours serving in support
of Operation Slipper.
HIGHLY SKILLED: Members of HMAS Melbourne's boarding party
climb up the side of tanker MV CPO China, which was under attack from
pirates in the Arabian Sea. Melbourne successfully thwarted the attack.
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