The civilian crew of the Navy-contracted MV Sycamore have relished an expanded role during Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20.
The ship’s primary function is to support maritime aviation training of Defence helicopter flight crews, usually in the vicinity of Jervis Bay with Navy trainees aboard.
Sycamore’s Naval Liaison Officer, Commander Karl Brinckmann, explained how the ship has modified her operations, away from her usual role, to support the ADF’s bushfire response.
“Sycamore is normally focused on raise, train, sustain activities, including aviation, recruit sea familiarisation and Junior Officer Navigation training and supporting the fleet’s overall training needs,” Commander Brinckmann said.
“Sycamore’s civilian crew were able to sail at very short notice and we’ve taken this additional role during Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 in-stride.”
Sycamore was called upon to help in the evacuation of 1400 civilians from Mallacoota, Victoria, with Choules in the first week of January.
“Most Australians wanted to assist those devastated by the bushfires,” Commander Brinckmann said.
“In Sycamore we felt privileged as we were able to provide help firsthand.”
Sycamore has also been instrumental in supporting the two larger ships in other tasks under Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20, including the movement of personnel from ashore to the ships.
“We transferred 41 personnel to Adelaide in Jervis Bay,” Commander Brinckmann said.
“The following day we disembarked 38 personnel to Choules in the vicinity of Gabo Island.”
Commander of the Amphibious Task Group, Captain Leif Maxfield, said the advantage of having a task group over a single ship is that so much more can be achieved.
“Sycamore played an instrumental part in the initial evacuation of Mallacoota,” Captain Maxfield said.
“Having the smaller multi-role vessel working with us has provided flexibility and enabled a broader range of response options to the task group.”
While Sycamore has returned to her usual training function, she will remain available to support Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 for as long as required.
Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: