Media Room | Reports and Publications | Careers and Recruiting | Industry and Contracts | Other Defence Links

Media Room: Media Releases

Department of Defence
Media Release


18/05/2009 MECC 167/09



The Royal Australian Navy Frigates, HMA Ships Sydney and Ballarat, last night came to the aid of the merchant vessel MV Dubai Princess, after she raised distress signals in the Gulf of Aden. The MV Dubai Princess claimed it was under attack from pirates, who were reported to be firing rocket propelled grenades and attempting to board the vessel by force.


The incident occurred in international waters at around 6pm Australian time, approximately 170km south of Yemen. Sydney and Ballarat responded to the distress signal while transiting though the Gulf of Aden as part of their Northern Trident 2009 deployment around the world.


As the situation developed, another merchant vessel, MV MSC Stella, was also harassed by small vessels in the same vicinity.


The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the measured response by the two passing Australian ships provided security to the merchant vessels and stabilised the situation.


Sydney’s Commanding Officer, Captain Peter Leavy, took the initial distress call and responded immediately in accordance with his obligations to render assistance under the Laws of the Sea,” Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.


Sydney closed in on the merchant vessel and launched her embarked Sea Hawk helicopter to gain an appraisal of the situation.


“At about the same time, Ballarat went to action stations and joined the response. She was instrumental in supporting MV MSC Stella.


“It appears the situation de-escalated once Sydney and Ballarat asserted their presence at the scene and from the reports we have, no injuries were suffered by merchant sailors.


“The situation was handled with confidence by our two Navy crews in Sydney and Ballarat. Their actions were swift and decisive and have contributed to international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.”


HMAS Ballarat escorted the two merchant vessels, as well as six others that subsequently entered the area, to safety once the threat had eased.  HMAS Sydney remained in the area for a number of hours to report the situation to a Task Force 151 ship assigned to the counter-piracy mission.


Sydney and Ballarat have now resumed their passage through the Gulf and will continue with their Northern Trident deployment program.


Northern Trident is an international diplomatic deployment that aims to develop and enhance international relationships, global security and the defence industries of Australia.


Media note: Imagery of HMAS Sydney and HMAS Ballarat is available at


Audio grabs from the Commanding Officer of HMAS Sydney, Captain Peter Leavy, will be available at



Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664


Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946
Media releases are available by email if you register online