Contributing to stable, rules-based global security is one of Australia's national objectives. Since 1990, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has conducted maritime security operations in the Middle East Region, which remains strategically important to Australia's economic and trade interests.
Operation MANITOU is the current name for the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region (MER). An enhanced security environment ensures Australia's safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce.
Operation MANITOU is under command of Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633), which is the Australian National HQ in the Middle East Region. The Royal Australian Navy routinely sends a Major Fleet Unit (MFU) to the MER for assignment to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty two nations and has three principle task forces:
The Australian Defence Organisation also provides a small staff that is permanently embedded within the Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters. This team, which presently comprises eight Royal Australian Navy personnel and one DSTG scientist, also undertakes the role of the Maritime Operations Support Group. The Royal Australian Navy also provides an International Liaison Officer for the UK Maritime Trade Operations Office.
Anzac class frigate HMAS Ballarat will depart Australia at the end of October for the next nine month deployment to Operation Manitou. This is the 67th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy warship to the MER since 1990. She follows the successful deployment of HMAS Warramunga, which returned to her home port of Fleet Base East, Sydney in July, 2018.