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HMAS Kanimbla on her way home.

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate


Thursday, 10 July 2003 86/2003


Defence Minister Robert Hill joined family and friends to greet HMAS Kanimbla in Cairns today as she makes her way home to Sydney after almost six months away as part of Australia’s contribution to the coalition to disarm Iraq.

The amphibious landing ship is visiting far north Queensland for three days en route to her homeport.

The ship’s company will be welcomed by senior Government and Navy leaders and about 1700 family and friends at a traditional ceremony in Sydney next week.

Senator Hill congratulated the ship’s commanding officer and crew on a job well d o n e a n d s a i d h e l o o k e d f o r w a r d t o t h e f o r m a l w e l c o m e h o m e i n S y d n e y o n Thursday 17 July.

“HMAS Kanimbla was the first of the Australian Defence Force deployments to the Middle East as part of the coalition to disarm Iraq,” Senator Hill said.

“When her 350 crew left Australia and their families in January they were sailing into the unknown. Despite the uncertainty, they performed their duties with commitment, courage and distinction.

“It was great to see so many families in Cairns to greet the ship and take the opportunity to join their loved for the final stage of their trip home. They will then be aboard for the Sydney welcome home ceremony, which will be a moving occasion.”

Operating as a command platform for coalition maritime forces in the northernmost waters of the Persian Gulf, Kanimbla first supported the Maritime Interception Force enforcing United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iraq and then provided sustainment to ADF units deployed to Operation Falconer. Kanimbla demonstrated a high level of interoperability with US and other forces operating in the Gulf and built on the respect Navy has earned with coalition commanders over a decade of deployments to the Middle East.

A highlight of Kanimbla’s deployment came on the night of 21 March 2003 when its boarding parties worked with US forces to intercept a barge with two tugs carrying a large number of sea mines as well as a number of Iraqi military personnel. The consequences for the coalition naval effort had these mines been released into the Persian Gulf would have been very serious.

The Army detachment aboard Kanimbla, responsible for operating LCM-8 landing crafts and the RBS-70 Surface to Air weapons system, worked seamlessly with their Navy colleagues and made an important contribution, including at the vital Port of Umm Qsar where they provided valuable support to Navy clearance diving teams.

Media contacts Catherine Fitzpatrick (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0405 351 245

Mark Tanzer (Defence) 07 4771 1602 0407 467 235