HMAS Tobruk has been working with the World Food Programme (WFP) and other aid organisations to get much-needed supplies to remote islands in the Philippines while deployed on Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST.
From 4 to 6 December, the ship completed aid delivery operations to remote islands north of Cebu, including Malapascua Island, Guintacan Island, Bantayan and the Don Islands.
Loaded with 150 pallets, totalling 110 tonnes of humanitarian stores from the WFP, Shelter Box and the Philippines Government, the ship utilised Army LARC (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) amphibious vehicles and two Army LCM-8 Landing Craft Mechanised to get the aid to shore.
One of the Shelter Box team leaders, Andre Bloemink operating in the Bantayan Islands said the aid would go a long way in the area, particularly the tent supplies.
“These tents are going to be spread across the island and the archipelago to bring some warmth and dignity back to the people of the Philippines,” Mr Bloemink said.
“The Australian Defence Force has been a key part of our structure and having teams spread across three different regions right now we couldn’t have had our tents brought here any other way at this time.”
During the four-day period, HMAS Tobruk was able to get all the stores to the isolated islands of northern Cebu and the task also gave the crew an opportunity to get off the ship and contribute to the aid efforts.
Able Seaman Bradley Donald said the opportunity to help out was exactly what he signed up for.
“I’m hoping to come back on land a fair few more times to help the people,” Able Seaman Donald said.
“I want to show these people that we care and we want to help.”
Mayor of Santa Fe, José Esgana, said the people of Bantayan Islands were thrilled with the international support and felt a real bond with Australia.
“I am very thankful that the Australian Government came in here,” Mayor Esgana said.
“We have some relatives and some Santa Fe people residing in Australia now and they too are continually asking me what help they can extend.”
After the aid drop off mission is completed, HMAS Tobruk is expected to sail back to Ormoc, Leyte to await further tasks under Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST.
More images available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132450.