A MH-60 Romeo helicopter from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross onboard HMAS Toowoomba has departed for the Middle East.
The Royal Australian Navy's Anzac Class frigate Toowoomba has left from her home port of Fleet Base West in Rockingham, Western Australia.
Toowoomba and the Romeo helicopter will be part of the Australian Defence Force's Operation Manitou contribution to promote maritime security and stability in the area.
Toowoomba is the 68th rotation of a RAN ship to the region since 1990.
Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds said Toowoomba and its190 sailors would support Australia's safe and open access to the region, and reaffirm our commitment to freedom of navigation.
"This highly capable vessel will focus on promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East by supporting counterterrorism, preventing piracy, and freedom of navigation," Minister Reynolds said.
"The importance of this deployment cannot be overstated in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean Region and is essential to the security of our nation and our economy."
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said Toowoomba's ship's company were ready for the mission following 12 months of preparation.
"Commander Mitchell Livingstone and his crew have worked tirelessly to prepare for this deployment, and will form an integral part of the multi-national Combined Maritime Force and International Maritime Security Construct," Vice Admiral Noonan said.
VADM Noonan also paid tribute to the families of Toowoomba's ship's company whose support is also significant to the deployment.
"We ask a lot of the men and women of Toowoomba who leave their families and friends for this deployment, but we also ask as much from those they leave behind," he said.
Toowoomba is scheduled to return in July.
HMAS Ballarat also featuring a MH-60R helicopter from 816 Squadron secured a massive haul during the corresponding Operation Manitou operations last year, seizing almost 20 tonnes of elicit drugs, with an estimated street value of $1.4 billion dollars. Half a million rounds of small arms ammunition and 697 bags of chemical fertiliser, which are used in making improvised explosives, were also seized.