Freedom to manoeuvre for relief force

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), POIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Location(s): Koro Island, Fiji

Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Michael Kumpis, Officer in Charge of the Deployable Geospatial Support Team, conducts a Rapid Environmental Assessment (Beach Survey) at Koro Island, Fiji. (photo: POIS Yuri Ramsey)
Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Michael Kumpis, Officer in Charge of the Deployable Geospatial Support Team, conducts a Rapid Environmental Assessment (Beach Survey) at Koro Island, Fiji.

Four Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Surveyors have been searching for the 'perfect beach' - not for relaxation - but importantly in support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led Australian whole-of-government relief mission, Operation FIJI ASSIST 2016.
 
The Deployable Geospatial Support Team have conducted numerous surveying operations around Koro Island in Fiji, which was severely damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston on 20 February. 
 
Measuring spot depths below the surface of the sea, the team's primary role has been carrying out what are known as 'Rapid Environmental Assessments' of potential sites for landing craft operations.
 
The assessments are about increasing safety and minimising damage to equipment as landing craft carrying humanitarian aid, equipment and personnel deliver their cargo ashore.
 
Office-in-Charge of the team, Lieutenant Commander Michael Kumpis, said the complex marine environment around Koro Island made surveying a must.
 
“The surrounding coral reefs, rocky outcrops and steep shoreline of Koro Island posed a significant challenge for landing craft operations,” Lieutenant Commander Kumpis said.
 
“Since arriving in Fiji we have successfully conducted Rapid Environmental Assessments of beaches to the North East and South West on Koro Island.”
 
Working closely with Navy Clearance Divers, the Australian Army Beach Element and Geospatial Intelligence Cell, the hydrographic team produced a detailed graphical representation of the beach and littoral, or shoreline, areas.

The feedback then allows maximum freedom of manoeuvre and situational awareness, for boat coxswains as they bring landing craft into the surveyed sites.

The success of the assessments has ensured successful delivery of over 56 tonnes of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to Koro Island so far.