• HMAS Hobart returns to her home port of Fleet Base East in Sydney.
    HMAS Hobart returns to her home port of Fleet Base East in Sydney. Defence

The RAN has completed its largest deployment of the year, with all of the Task Group ships returning home after three months of engagement with regional partners across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

As HMAS Hobart sailed into Sydney this week, it marked the final ship arriving home after a busy Regional Presence Deployment 2020.

The remainder of the Task Group included HMA Ships Canberra, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Navy had further strengthened Australia’s relationships with regional partners during the deployment.

“The ADF conducts regular military-to-military engagements throughout the Indo-Pacific, to demonstrate that our commitment to our regional partners remains solid and our desire for a stable and secure region is a priority,” Minister Reynolds said. “I commend the more than 700 ADF personnel who spent the last three months working alongside our partners, demonstrating our capability and showing themselves to be professional and resilient.

“I also thank their families, because without their support, the deployment of our ADF personnel would not be possible.”

The Task Group exercised with 11 regional partners, conducted advanced air-sea integration drills with the RAAF and the US Navy in waters off Guam, participated in the successful search and rescue of three sailors in the Federated States of Micronesia, participated in Exercise RIMPAC, and the Commander of the Task Group, Captain Phillipa Hay, became the first female to lead an exercise Task Force in the exercise’s 49-year history.

Captain Hay said it had been an honour to lead the Task Group and she was extremely grateful and proud of the efforts of the professional RAN’s officers and sailors.

“The Regional Presence Deployment 2020 was conducted during a global pandemic which presented new challenges to how we conduct military operations,” CAPT Hay said. “The mission has also been enormously successful.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ships conducted only a few logistics visits outside of Australia, resupplying and refuelling in accordance with strict protocols that mitigate COVID-19-related risks.

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