Officers and sailors from HMAS Coonawarra have joined forces with other Australian Defence Force personnel and the local community for the massive clean-up operation following Cyclone Marcus, which struck Darwin on 17th March.
Navy’s commitment came after the appointment of a Joint Task Force (JTF) to bolster the cyclone recovery efforts.
JTF659, working under Operation NT ASSIST 18, is the whole-of-Defence emergency response to a request by the Northern Territory Government for support.
The appointment brings the number of sailors, soldiers and airmen involved to more than 400.
Commanding Officer Coonawarra, Commander Viktor Pilicic, said Navy personnel would be working with other ADF members to clear roads and schools of the trees brought down in the category two storm.
“Darwin is a Defence town. We have worked and played alongside the local community for 70 years,” Commander Pilicic said.
“We have been there in the good times and have helped rebuild after the bad times, such as the Bombing of Darwin and Cyclone Tracy.
“Our children go to the schools and our sailors and officers are part of the local sports teams and clubs.
“All Navy members involved are proud to support our neighbours and friends in the cyclone clean-up.”
Seaman Maritime Logistics – Supply Chain Chloe Tanner said the community had been very appreciative.
“People have been coming out of their homes to thank us for being here and putting in the time. We have had kids running up to the front gates of their schools wanting to say hi and see what we are doing,” Seaman Tanner said.
JTF 659 will fall under the Command of Brigadier Matt Pearse.
He said the soldiers, sailors and airmen and women of JTF 659 are very much part of the Top End community.
“We are proud to be doing our bit, alongside the outstanding teams from the Northern Territory Government and city councils of Darwin and Palmerston, to help our communities clean-up after Cyclone Marcus.”
With the possibility of a second cyclone forming in the Timor Sea, Brigadier Pearse said JTF659 personnel were working with council staff to assist emergency clean-up around schools and roads, to reduce the risk of fallen trees becoming missiles should another cyclone hit the Darwin area.
“Our priorities match those of the Northern Territory Government and city councils, to ensure current hazards don’t become greater ones.”