The crew of Australian warship HMAS Toowoomba, is on patrol in the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf. This is an area of heightened political tension and an increasing danger zone for piracy.
In a world first, follow the 193 men and women of the Royal Australian Navy Warship as they join a US-led task force to combat smuggling and piracy. The crew of Toowoomba must adapt to the daily pressures of life on active service, knowing that one mistake out here could mean not just their lives but those they've sworn to protect. Combat Ready
Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Toowoomba is heading to the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf to join a US-led multi-national coalition countering smuggling and the growing problem of piracy in the region. It’s a first for the Australian Navy and for Toowoomba’s new Captain, Commander Ivan Ingham. Before they can go they face a Mission-Readiness test, a week of intensive simulated warfare exercises. Their endurance under relentless pressure and ability to deal with emergencies effectively and quickly will be tested. It’s a rollercoaster week, of air and small boat attacks, a real-life helicopter breakdown, exhaustion and frayed tempers. Gradually, the crew of Toowoomba begin to turn it around and show the kind of teamwork and determination they’ll need for operational deployment. They pass the test and farewell their families. They now face six months on Gulf Patrol – no more exercises – this is the real deal.
Captain of the ship, Commander Ivan Ingham, sets out the terms of the mission and the need for a tight ship and good discipline in the face of a challenging six month deployment – including the need for the crew to stay alcohol-free. Both on-board and out on the water the boarding party teams are honing their skills in preparation, and hope, for some action. It doesn't take long for the warship to see some action. Dhows suspected of trafficking drugs are spotted and the boarding party swings into action. But back on board one of their own is about to get the shock of his life in a random drug test.
Reports are coming in of dhows and speedboats coming uncomfortably close to international shipping. HMAS Toowoomba finally gets the call it’s been waiting for and races to the scene. The boarding teams apprehend a skiff. A tense search reveals the men are armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and a rocket grenade launcher. Meanwhile, helicopter Pegasus is grounded and is unable to assist with long-range reconnaissance, boarding operations, or even a routine RAS – replenishment-at-sea. Just over halfway through their six-month mission the crew are homesick and struggling to maintain morale. To make matters worse a young officer commits the cardinal sin of falling asleep at the wheel. He receives a severe reprimand from Commander Ingham who is adamant that all his crew perform at their best. The problems mount up for Commander Ingham when the chef is medivac-ed out with a suspected broken arm and an outbreak of Jordan gastro cripples some of the crew.
HMAS Toowoomba investigates a small yacht sitting slap-bang in the middle of pirate territory. It’s not moving and not responding to radio contact. Yachtsmen have become a favourite target for pirates. Have they struck again? A merchant vessel is broken down and a sitting duck, Toowoomba races to the scene to try and protect it. Disaster strikes – Toowoomba is dead in the water. One of its propellers is snagged with nets and rope from one of the many fishing dhows operating in the area. Divers work for hours in heavy swells and shark-infested waters to try and untangle the mess. Finally it’s time to return home. The crew is reunited with their loved ones. Commander Ivan Ingham’s baptism of fire has now turned into mission accomplished.
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