Australian warship departs for Middle East amid US-Iran tensions


But fears of further conflict remain high. Iranian military personnel shot down a passenger airline over the country last week in the mistaken belief it was a “hostile target”.

HMAS Toowoomba’s deployment was announced in August as part of Australia’s efforts to stop piracy and ensure safety of navigation in the Middle East.

“This destabilising behaviour is a threat to Australian interests in the region,” Mr Morrison said in a statement at the time.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Toowoomba’s departure “is essential to the security of our nation and our economy”.

“This highly capable vessel will focus on promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East by supporting counter‑terrorism, preventing piracy, and freedom of navigation.”

The ship will be in the region for six months, and is part of two international coalitions.

In addition to the International Maritime Security Construct with the US and the UK focussed on the waters off Iran, the Toowoomba will join the 33-nation Combined Maritime Force in the Middle East dealing with piracy and terrorism, among other issues.

Vice-Admiral Michael Noonan, the chief of Australia’s navy, thanked the families of those onboard the Toowoomba.

“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,” Vice-Admiral Noonan said.


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