Adelaide rises to the test in unit readiness

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS Nina Fogliani (photographer)

Location(s): Jervis Bay, Australia

(Right to Left) Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Daniel Larkins, Leading Seaman Medic Tim Binyon and Able Seaman Medic Olivia Mortlock attend a casualty onboard HMAS Adelaide during a Humanitarian Aid exercise. (photo: LSIS Nina Fogliani)
(Right to Left) Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Daniel Larkins, Leading Seaman Medic Tim Binyon and Able Seaman Medic Olivia Mortlock attend a casualty onboard HMAS Adelaide during a Humanitarian Aid exercise.

HMAS Adelaide’s ability to safely conduct humanitarian aid, disaster relief and non-combatant evacuation operations was tested this month during the ship’s unit readiness workup in Jervis Bay, on the New South Wales south coast.

In a mock exercise staged by Sea Training Group and designed to replicate a real life emergency, Adelaide was sent to parts of the fictitious country affected by a tropical cyclone.  Residents in affected areas of the notional country ‘Beulah’ were left homeless, hungry and many with serious injuries.

Adelaide's
 Commanding Officer, Captain Paul Mandziy, said the warship’s ability to conduct such operations made it valuable to Australia and the surrounding region.

“These amphibious ships represent world-leading capability and provide greatly enhanced capacity for humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”

'Locals' demanding food and water were greeted by Adelaide’s initial response team.  The devastated residents, role-played by trainees from the New Entry Officers' Course at the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell, had no shelter, no power and no means of communication.

Adelaide
 responded quickly.  Her landing craft delivered supplies and transport to the area while technicians restored power and communications.

The ship’s doctor and medics set up a temporary triage to treat the injured and ill, which included a heavily pregnant woman complaining of stomach pains and a man with deep cuts to his head and eye. 

Embarked Army personnel provided security for the response team.

Lead Sea Trainer, Lieutenant Commander Marc Beecroft, said the exercise challenged Adelaide to respond to continually evolving situations. 

“The first priority with disaster relief is to rescue survivors from immediate danger and then to stabilise their physical and emotional condition," he said.

"These go hand-in-hand with the recovery of deceased personnel and the restoration of essential services such as water, power and telecommunications.

“As the first unit on scene, ships are faced with the immediate task of understanding what they can contribute to minimise the impact of the incident on the local populous.  

"The chief purpose of military forces conducting humanitarian assistance operations is to provide a secure environment to allow humanitarian action to progress,” Lieutenant Commander Beecroft said.

The Royal Australian Navy is required to have major fleet units on standby at high level of readiness for these kinds of operations.

In February, Adelaide’s sister ship HMAS Canberra carried 800 disaster relief personnel, army engineering assets, three helicopters and 60 tonnes of emergency supplies, including water purification equipment and medical supplies, to Fiji after a cyclone devastated the nation.