Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Toowoomba, nicknamed the ‘Purple Pony’, was returned to the water at Henderson, Western Australia, on April 12 after an 18-month maintenance period. Toowomba is the fifth of the Navy’s eight Anzac-class frigates to exit the dry production phase of the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP). This program involves significant out-of-water maintenance and upgrades to the overall capability of the Anzac class. The focus for the crew and supporting industry now turns from deep-cycle maintenance on Toowoomba’s systems, to returning them to an operational state.
Commanding Officer of Toowoomba, Commander Darin MacDonald said,“ achieving a ship’s undocking relied on the expertise of Commonwealth and Defence industries, with many partners having undertaken weeks of assurance activities to certify the safety of the ship. The AMCAP program is an ongoing collaboration between Defence and industry partners. Toowoomba has been the beneficiary of a rolling cycle of enhancements from previous ships. Undocking also marks a transition of responsibility for the ship back to Navy, with the ship’s company pleased to resume ownership of the Purple Pony.”
Toowoomba will be docked in October 2015 to undergo the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade. The upgrade will include the fitting of CEA Technologies’ CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT phased array radars on new masts, a Vampir NG Infrared Search and Track system, and Sharpeye Navigational Radar Systems, along with improvements to the operations room equipment and layout. This will involve a number of trials, both alongside and at sea, before the ship is scheduled to return to an operational cycle at the end of this year. The RAN intends to start replacing theirs in 2027 when their first Hunter-class frigate is commissioned, while the RNZN ships will remain active until the mid-2030s.
HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156) is the seventh Anzac-class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was laid down in 2002 by Tenix Defence and commissioned in 2005. In 2007, Toowoomba was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Slipper. Her second deployment to the Middle East occurred during the second half of 2009. As part of this, she became the first RAN vessel to operate with the counter-piracy Combined Task Force 151. The Anzacs are based on Blohm + Voss’ MEKO 200 PN (or Vasco da Gama-class) frigates, modified to meet Australian and New Zealand specifications and maximise the use of locally built equipment.