For many of the Australian Defence Force personnel involved in Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-20 there is an added personal connection to the ongoing emergency through family and friends directly impacted by the fires.
For Leading Seaman Tina Dummett, the Australian bushfire crisis has hit close to home. The Combat Systems Operator, currently deployed on Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20, grew up right in the middle of one of the worst-affected bushfire areas.
HMAS Albatross and its resident squadrons have made a significant contribution to the aerial component of the NSW Rural Fire Service’s bushfire operations, but the efforts of the base’s contracted firefighters have been equally important in keeping the Naval Air Station at Albatross in the fight.
On 12 January, Fire and Rescue New South Wales and members of the ADF successfully retrieved a helicopter that was forced to ditch into the Ben Boyd Reservoir, near the township of Eden, on 9 January.
The Anzac Class frigate HMAS Toowoomba has departed her homeport of Fleet Base West in Rockingham, Western Australia for a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
When Lieutenant Commander Nick Grimmer first came to the Royal Australian Navy’s 808 Squadron on a three-year exchange from the Royal Navy, he was more attuned to searching for submarines than searching for people cut-off from raging bushfires.
While hundreds of Navy members were rushing back from leave to join the ADF’s bushfire response, others were pulling on uniforms of a different colour to serve their communities as volunteer rural and country firefighters.
For the nearly 1500 guests who have been evacuated from the Victorian town of Mallacoota to Western Port on board HMAS Choules, the journey was made easier by the presence of people from other agencies who helped the ship’s company look after them.
With the national bushfire emergency still ongoing, the Royal Australian Navy amphibious ship HMAS Choules - dubbed by many on social media as the ‘Mallacoota Ferry’ - has completed a second evacuation from Mallacoota in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.
There may have been some dark days to the start of her year, but the candles on bushfire evacuee Tiffany Bragg’s birthday cake have shed a little light onto a special day - even if in a temporary home called HMAS Harman.