The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has concluded its contribution to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in the Middle East Region. Personnel from the Australian contingent joined coalition partners in a formal flag lowering ceremony at the IMSC Headquarters in Bahrain on 28 December 2020 to mark the end of mission for Australia.
Commander of Joint Task force 633, Rear Admiral Michael Rothwell, said the completion of ADF support to IMSC closed a small but important component of Australia’s long commitment to maritime security in the Middle East Region. “Our contribution to IMSC, alongside our coalition partners, has been effective in deterring malign activity, promoting maritime security and stability, and ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman,” Rothwell said. “The principle of freedom of navigation is critically important to Australia, as an island nation that relies on international waters to ship its exports. Australians should be very proud of our involvement in the IMSC mission.”
Beginning in September 2019, Australia joined Albania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States in the IMSC, contributing staff to the Headquarters, as well as support from a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and the Frigate HMAS Toowoomba.
As announced by Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, the ADF is reducing its naval presence in the Middle East Region to enable resources to be deployed in the Indo-Pacific.
Rothwell said the ADF would continue to support maritime security in the Middle East. “As announced earlier this year, Defence will maintain specialist positions with the Combined Maritime Forces, the United States Naval Forces Central Command, and within Joint Task Force 633.”