Canberra resupplies to continue support to Fiji

This article has photo gallery Published on CAPT Megan McDermott (author), SGT Ray Vance (photographer), CAPT Megan McDermott (photographer)

Location(s): Suva, Fiji

Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Doug Rowan, at the controls of one of HMAS Canberra's LHD Landing Craft during an aid replenishment as a part of Operation Fiji Assist. (photo: SGT Ray Vance)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Doug Rowan, at the controls of one of HMAS Canberra's LHD Landing Craft during an aid replenishment as a part of Operation Fiji Assist.

HMAS Canberra returned to Suva early on 10 March to conduct a resupply of essential aid and construction equipment intended for Fiji's cyclone-ravaged Taveuni and Koro Islands.

Twenty pallets of humanitarian aid were loaded onto landing craft and amphibious transport vehicles to embark in the ship, including water, shelter, hygiene kits and construction materials.

With the ship in view just off the coast of Suva, Executive Officer Canberra, Commander Jason Hunter, said he was proud to be working closely with the Fijian Government on Canberra's first operational deployment.
 
"To come off the Australian station and be in position in Suva to assist the Government of Fiji as they work hard to support their people, it's good to see our capability being put to good use and makes the crew very proud," Commander Hunter said.
 
"After a very busy 12 months of trials and acceptance, we are well and truly qualified to be able to conduct humanitarian aid.”
Under the morning sun, the ship's argo Specialists and Terminus Operators, also known as 'Termites', transferred stores onto the Landing Craft using the MHT-X780 Forklift.
 
Commander Hunter said that the team were well trained in heavy machinery operation, enabling the efficient transfer of stores and subsequent ability to respond quickly to relief tasks.
  
"They do it in quick-time so that we're not here for very long and we're able to turn around and get it to where it needs to be as fast as we can," he said.
 
On Koro Island, Australian Defence Force personnel have been working with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Government of Fiji officials and local villagers to help communities get back on their feet.
 
Utilising engineering and construction equipment transported to the island by the ship's amphibious vehicles, engineers from both nations have been working hard to clear debris and repair key infrastructure such as community shelters and schools.
   
With the ship now resupplied, it is set to sail 200 kilometres northeast of Suva to the island of Taveuni where the ship's engineering and amphibious assets will continue to be used to provide initial disaster assistance to help the local communities get back on their feet.