Naval Task Group 635.5

Naval Task Group 635.5


Before Operation Anode and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was involved in earlier ADF operations in Solomon Islands, including Operations Trek, Plumbob and Dorsal.

Since 2003, the RAN has provided support to RAMSI, especially for logistics and transport across the far flung archipelago.

In the initial RAMSI deployment in July 2003, the major vessel was the amphibious transport ship HMAS Manoora, supported by RAN patrol boatsBalikpapan-class heavy landing craft and a naval minesweeper.

Task Group 635.5 was created in late October 2003, from Royal Australian Navy (RAN) units left in the Solomons after the departure of HMAS Manoora, which returned to Australia in November 2003. Operation Anode has continued to receive support from two patrol boats, though RAN vessels have regularly rotated and extra vessels have been sent at times of crisis, such as the April 2006 riots in Honiara.

Government sources

The Royal Australian Navy and the Restoration of Stability in the Solomon Islands, Semaphore (Newsletter of the Sea Power Centre Australia), Issue 13, August 2005

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) personnel formed a significant proportion of the ADF contribution. Apart from Manoora , the patrol boat HMAS Whyalla , the heavy landing craft HMA ships Wewak and Labuan , and the coastal minehunter HMAS Hawkesbury were sent to the area of operations . Following the initial deployment, two RAN vessels were generally maintained on station, and by the end of ANODE, 19 Australian warships had taken part. The last of these, the patrol boat HMAS Fremantle, sailed for home in October 2004.

Despite the RAN’s many previous missions to the Solomons, Operation ANODE was unique in that the Navy’s primary role was to support and facilitate the work of the Participating Police Force (PPF). Moreover, in addition to being the first time that the RAN had supported a police-led mission, the operation was unusual in that its leader, Nick Warner, was a civilian from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.”

RAN officers, Task Group 635.5, Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph

Lt. Cdr. Fraser Vergelius, Royal Australian Navy Liaison Officer to the Commander of the Joint Task Force and leader of naval Task Group 635.5. Task Group 635.5 was formed as part of Operation Anode, Australia’s military deployment in support of the multi-national Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) units left in the Solomon Islands after the departure of HMAS Manoora.”

Small Group making big waves, Lt Cdr Fraser Vergelius, Navy News, 2003

“Some of the more interesting jobs recently completed since November 2003 have included:

    • HMAS Cessnock (LCDR Richard Stevenson) rescuing thirteen Taiwanese and Vietnamese nationals from Roncador Reef (200nm from Honiara) on the December 28, 2003, when their long-liner fishing vessel, Pacific Tarker 116, ran aground and was in danger of breaking up.
    • HMAS Wewak (LCDR Etienne Mulder) transporting some 90 tonnes of relief supplies to the remote, cyclone ravaged, islands of Tikopia and Anuta (600nm east of Honiara) in early December 2003. The local population, still recovering from cyclone Gina, were down to last of their food supplies.
    • Supporting the Hydrographic Survey Operational Deployment Support Unit (HODSU), led by LCDR Mick Rigby, in conducting a survey of Munda Harbour. The three-man team produced a new nautical chart, allowing Munda to be safely used by TG 635.5 patrol boats to refuel and resupply in between patrols.
    • Providing support to Police, which has led to the arrest and transportation of a significant number of criminals ranging from petty thieves to rapists and murderers.”