Loaded with zeal

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Andrew Ragless (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Topic(s): Operations, Ships, Boats and Submarines, Landing Ship Dock (LSD), HMAS Choules (L100), Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR)

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Phoebe Evans keeps a look out on the bridge of amphibious support ship HMAS Choules during the ship's transit to cyclone ravaged North Queensland. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Phoebe Evans keeps a look out on the bridge of amphibious support ship HMAS Choules during the ship's transit to cyclone ravaged North Queensland.

HMAS Choules has lived up to her motto, 'facing difficulty with zeal', loading more than 100 troops, 50 vehicles and 46 pallets of humanitarian and disaster relief stores before getting underway for cyclone ravaged North Queensland.

The stores were loaded from the Port of Brisbane in less than half a day before the ship set sail for the Whitsunday archipelago on 29 March.

Deputy Maritime Logistics Officer Lieutenant Mel Soares said the short notice task was a big undertaking and the crew worked throughout the day and evening through to get the ship stored as quickly as possible in the driving rain.

“But I’ve never seen a more motivated crew in my life, we’re all very keen to help those in need who have been affected by Cyclone Debbie,” she said.

HMAS Choules embarked troops, vehicles and equipment, predominately from the Australian Army’s 17th Construction Squadron, 6th Engineer Support Regiment and supporting units.

Once in location, Choules will be able to land and disperse three separate construction teams from ship to shore in different locations.

These teams are capable of conducting a variety of tasks including road clearance and drainage works, the distribution of humanitarian aid and disaster relief stores, potable water distribution, repair vital infrastructure and the construction of temporary shelters.

Her embarked MRH90 Taipan helicopter and aero-medical evacuation team can conduct reconnaissance missions, personnel evacuations and respond to medical emergencies as required.

“HMAS Choules is an amphibious ship, so to be able to do the core roles that the ship was designed for has been very satisfying.”