(II) - Part 3

HMAS Tobruk (II)
Modified Sir Bedivere Class
Faithful and Strong
Carrington Slipways Pty. Ltd.
Laid Down
7 February 1979
1 March 1980
Launched by
Lady Anna Cowen
23 April 1981
31 July 2015
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 5800 ton
Length 127 metres
Beam 18 metres
Speed 17 knots
Crew 150
Embarked Forces 520
Machinery 2 x 54 ton, 4,800bhp Mirrlees-Blackstone KDMR8 diesel engines
  • 6x 12.7mm Machine Guns
  • 2 x Mini Typhoon Guns
Helicopters In support of Amphibious Operations (ranging from the Squirrel AS350-B to Chinook CH47)
Inherited Battle Honours KOREA 1951–53
Battle Honours EAST TIMOR 1999
HMAS Tobruk (II) ship badge

HMAS Tobruk visited Wellington and Lyttleton, New Zealand, in April 2000 to embark stores and equipment which she later disembarked at Darwin for onward delivery to the New Zealand contingent in East Timor. She participated in Exercise PREDATORS GALLOP in May and, in spite of the high operational tempo, continued to participate in major exercises up until her decommissioning including; SEA EAGLE and CROCODILE in 2003; OCEAN PROTECTOR, SEA LION, SEA EAGLE and SWIFT EAGLE in 2004; TASMANEX in 2005; SEA LION and TALISMAN SABRE in 2007; SEA LION in 2008; TALISMAN SABRE in 2009; and HAMEL, MARS and SEA LION in 2012.

HMAS Tobruk loaded with Army vehicles and ready for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2007.

HMAS Tobruk loaded with Army vehicles and equipment in readiness for Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2007.

On 6 June 2000, while en route from Bougainville to Vanuatu, Tobruk was directed to provide support for a possible evacuation of Australian and other foreign nationals from the Solomon Islands after fighting by disparate militant groups saw the overthrow of the central Government and the Malatian Eagle Force take control. Tobruk took up a position south of Guadalcanal Island late the following day and conducted evacuation operations at Honiara on 8 and 9 June. She departed the area for Cairns on 10 June with 486 evacuees on board, including 156 children, and handed over response vessel duties to HMNZS Te Mana. She arrived at Cairns on 13 June.

Tobruk arrived back in Honiara on 24 June in support of Operation PLUMBOB and possible peace talks between the warring factions. Cease-fire negotiations commenced on board Tobruk on 7 July and continued for the rest of month before a cease-fire agreement was signed on board on 2 August. She departed the Solomon Islands the following day.

Tobruk participated in Operation GOLD in September and October, the Australian Defence Force’s support for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.She visited New Zealand in November conducting port visits to Auckland and Dunedin. On 7 December she departed Sydney to once again deploy to the Solomon Islands under the auspices of Operation TREK, the Australian Defence Force operation to support the International Peace Monitoring Team deployed in accordance with the Townsville Peace Agreement signed earlier in the year. She arrived in the Area of Operations on 12 December where she remained for the next two months. On 7 February 2001 the Marau Peace Agreement was signed on board and on 10 February, she commenced passage back home to Sydney officially relieved by HMAS Newcastle the following day. Upon her return to Sydney she underwent a much needed maintenance period. She returned to sea in August conducting trials, shakedown and workup.

Tobruk conducts a replenishment at sea with HMAS Sirius.

Tobruk conducts an underway replenishment at sea with HMAS Westralia (II).

That September through to the beginning of December, Tobruk deployed to northern Australian waters in support of Operation RELEX, the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the whole-of-government effort to protect Australia's borders and offshore maritime interests. She again deployed to northern waters for RELEX duties in March and April 2002 before once again visiting East Timor to back load equipment used during Operation TANAGER for return to Australia. She conducted further Operation RELEX II deployments in August to November 2002; and January and February 2003.

Propeller damage briefly forced Tobruk in to dry dock in Brisbane in May 2002 in between transporting Army equipment to Broome in support of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program. She conducted a brief visit to Vila, Vanuatu, from 29 March to 1 April 2003 before undergoing an extended maintenance period in Sydney and returned to sea at the end of July.

Tobruk returned to the Solomon Islands in August 2003 to extract the Peace Monitoring Group whose mission had come to an end with the establishment of the Bougainville Provisional Administration. The Peace Monitoring Group was disembarked at Townsville on 26 August.

She visited South East Asia in October in company with HMAS Arunta (II) conducting port visits to Singapore, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City before returning to Sydney, via Fremantle, Adelaide and Hobart, on 26 November.

Captain Nick Bramwell, former commanding officer of Tobruk made the 2014 Queens Birthday honours list by receving the Order of Australia Medal.

Captain Nick Bramwell, former commanding officer of Tobruk, poses in front of his old command after receiving the Order of Australia Medal in 2014.

She proceeded overseas once again at the end of May 2004, on this occasion to participate in Exercise CROIX DU SUD in New Caledonian waters in June alongside defence force units from France, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tahiti and Tonga. She arrived back in Sydney, via Auckland and Nelson, New Zealand, on 2 July.

She conducted a training cruise to Vanuatu, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island in October and November, and visited Auckland during the course of Exercise TASMANEX in February 2005. Her participation in TASMANEX was cut short, however, when she was directed to return to Sydney and begin preparations to deploy to the Middle East to transport personnel and equipment for the Al Muthanna Task Group under the auspices of Operation CATALYST.

After a workup that occupied much of March and April, Tobruk departed Darwin for the Middle East on 18 April. She entered the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on 6 May and arrived at Mina Ash Shu’aybah, Kuwait, on 9 May. She offloaded her cargo in less than three hours and departed the port the following morning. She visited Dubai before departing the MEAO on 17 May. She returned home to Sydney, via Cochin and Darwin, on 23 June.

On 14 March 2006 Tobruk set a course northwards bound for Indonesia under the auspices of Operation PERINGATAN, the Australian Defence Force’s support for the memorial dedication on the first anniversary of the Shark 02 Sea King helicopter tragedy on Nias Island. She avoided Tropical Cyclone Larry in Northern Queensland waters and visited Darwin before making her final departure on 24 March. She arrived at Nias Island on 31 March where an advance party were landed to proceed to the memorial site at Tuindrao before Tobruk continued on to Sibolga, Sumatra. Families and friends of those lost in the Sea King crash, along with a number of VIPs, were embarked at Sibolga on 1 April. The service was held at Tuindrao the following day and the guests were landed back at Sibolga on 3 April. Tobruk went on to visit Singapore before arriving back in Darwin on 17 April.

French Army Trucks drive up onto a LCM8 from HMAS Tobruk during Exercise CROIX DU SUD 2006.

She participated in Exercise CROIX DU SUD in New Caledonian waters at the end of April and beginning of May, however, the remainder of her deployment to the South Pacific was cancelled as she was assigned to Operation ASTUTE, the Australian Defence Force’s support to the Government of Timor Leste in stabilising law and order, and easing factional tensions. She returned to Townsville to prepare for the deployment and departed on 23 May. She entered the ASTUTE Area of Operations four days later. After disembarking her cargo at Dili, she departed the Area of Operations on 29 May. She made another voyage to Dili in June transporting cargo and personnel, and providing medical and comfort services to Task Force personnel ashore. She returned to Sydney for the first time in more than three months on 23 June.

Sunset reflected in the glass of a 10-inch signalling projector on board HMAS Tobruk as the day draws to an end in Canala Bay, New Caledonia, during Exercise CROIX DU SUD 2006.

Left: HMAS Tobruk conducts a ster door marriage with HMAS Balikpapan off the coast of Dili, Timor-Leste, during Operation ASTUTE. Right: A LCM8 brings fresh stores to HMAS Tobruk as HMAS Kanimbla lies at anchor in the background during Operation ASTUTE.

Tobruk spent the New Year undertaking a deployment to the Middle East, under the auspices of Operation SLIPPER, and South East Asia. She visited Muscat, Dubai and Mina Ash Shu’aybah where she delivered vehicles, stores and equipment for ADF units in Iraq and Afghanistan. She visited Manila en route back to Australia where she embarked a Vietnam War era OV-10 Bronco aircraft, a gift from the Philippines Government to the Australian War Memorial. She arrived back in Sydney, via Townsville, on 16 March 2007.

She was assigned to Operation RESOLUTE that October conducting patrols in the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone in northern Australian waters until mid-December. She underwent a refit from March 2008 and returned to sea on 23 May.

HMAS Tobruk departs Fleet Base East (FBE), Sydney Harbour following her refit in 2008.

HMAS Tobruk departs Fleet Base East (FBE), Sydney Harbour following her refit in 2008.

She sailed from Townsville on 15 June for Pearl Harbor to participate in Exercise RIMPAC along with HMA Ships Anzac (III) and Success (II). The trio arrived in Pearl Harbor on 27 June and, along with HMAS Waller and Clearance Diving Team 4, joined naval units from nine other Pacific nations for exercises throughout July. It was the first time that the RAN, through Tobruk, participated in the amphibious phase of RIMPAC with the ship embarking US Marines and seven of the Marine Corps’ 26-tonne Amphibious Assault Vehicles. She returned home in August.

Tobruk transported stores and equipment to Weipa in April 2009 in support of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program before proceeding to Darwin for Operation RESOLUTE tasking. Her RESOLUTE tasking came to an end on 6 June and she returned to Sydney on 24 June.

Lieutenant Commander  Susan Sharpe, Medical Officer HMAS Tobruk, prepares to see a patient at the temporary medical area, set up on the Tongan island of Niuatoputapu, as the Ship's Company of HMAS Tobruk continue to provide assistance whilst on Operation Samoa Assist.

Lieutenant Commander Susan Sharpe, Medical Officer HMAS Tobruk, prepares to see a patient at the temporary medical area on the Tongan island of Niuatoputapu during Operation SAMOA ASSIST.

Tobruk departed Sydney on 27 October bound for Samoa and Tonga under the auspices of Operation SAMOA ASSIST, the Australian Defence Force’s

Seaman Communications Information Systems Myfanwy Rees adjusts equipment in the communication centre as the ship sails toward the Pacific Islands of Tonga and Samoa on Operation Samoa Assist.

Seaman Communications Information Systems Operator Myfanwy Rees adjusts equipment in the communication centre as the ship sails toward the Pacific Islands of Tonga and Samoa on Operation SAMOA ASSIST.

humanitarian mission following a tsunami which devastated the two island nations on 30 September. Tobruk spent most of November in the South Pacific providing a sea-lift capability to the tsunami affected areas while providing medical support and shore teams to assist in clean-up operations. She arrived back in Sydney, via Vanuatu and Townsville, on 8 December.

HMAS Tobruk Part 4

Further Reading