Contributing to stable, rules-based global security is one of Australia's national objectives. Since 1990, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has conducted maritime security operations in the Middle East Region, which remains strategically important to Australia's economic and trade interests.
Operation MANITOU is the current name for the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region (MER). An enhanced security environment ensures Australia's safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce.
Operation MANITOU is under command of Joint Task Force 633 (JTF 633), which is the Australian National HQ in the Middle East Region. The Royal Australian Navy routinely sends a Major Fleet Unit (MFU) to the MER for assignment to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty one nations and has three principle task forces:
The Australian Defence Organisation also provides a small staff that is permanently embedded within the Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters. This team, which presently comprises nine Royal Australian Navy personnel and one DSTG scientist, also undertakes the role of the Maritime Operations Support Group. The Royal Australian Navy also provides an International Liaison Officer for the UK Maritime Trade Operations Office and continues to deploy a major fleet unit (MFU) on a six-month rotation to the Middle East Region.
The RAN MFU currently deployed is HMAS Darwin. This is the 62nd rotation of an RAN vessel to the MER since 1990.
HMAS Darwin is one of the Royal Australian Navy's three ADELAIDE Class guided missile frigates. The ship is a long-range escort capable of area air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. The ship can counter simultaneous threats from aircraft, surface vessels and submarines.
Including this rotation, Darwin has deployed to the MER seven times between 1990 and 2016 as part of operations DAMASK, SLIPPER and MANITOU.
The ship's pennant number 04 and her motto is 'RESURGENT'.
The previous ship assigned to Operation MANITOU was HMAS Melbourne.