From: Defence Media Centre
Sent: Wed 18/12/2013 10:21 AM

Australian Defence Force completes Philippines recovery operation

The majority of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have returned to Australia after completing their Typhoon Haiyan recovery assistance mission in the Philippines.

The ADF recovery mission officially ended Monday, 16 December at a ceremony in Ormoc, Philippines, attended by Department of Foreign Affairs, Australian Army officers and local officials including the local Mayor, Mr Edward C. Codilla.

Commander of Joint Task Force 630 Lieutenant Colonel Rod Lang said the Australian people can be proud of the work done by Defence personnel to help speed up the Philippines’ recovery.

“Over the past month the ADF has moved thousands of tonnes of aid by air and sea to locations where it has been needed most. We have evacuated displaced people, and helped around 15,500 kids get back to school.

“I am pleased to say the Philippine government has the situation here under control and no longer needs our help,” Lieutenant Colonel Lang said.

Mayor Codilla thanked the Australians for their contribution in cleaning up schools and relief efforts across the region. “Ormoc is now standing on its feet and moving rapidly to recovery. A big Salamat! (thank you) Australia from all in Ormoc,” Mayor Codilla said.

The Australian Defence Force’s support to typhoon relief and recovery efforts commenced on 13 November and has included air, sea and land operations.

The Royal Australian Air Force provided continuous support to relief and recovery operations from 13 November around Philippines. During these operations Air Force C-130J aircraft carried more than 5,000,000 lbs (2,360 Tonnes) of cargo and more than 5,800 passengers including approximately 3,500 internally displaced persons. During these operations the Air Force aircraft deployed and recovered the Australian Medical Assistance Team.

Amphibious vessel HMAS Tobruk arrived in Ormoc on 26 November. After unloading Army Engineers and equipment, the ship’s crew assisted in school clean-up tasks and later delivered 110 tonnes of humanitarian aid to isolated island communities in the Visayas archipelago. Tobruk sailed to Australia on 9 December.

Between 28 November and 15 December, Australian Army engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, with assistance from Navy sailors and in coordination with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff, cleaned-up and repaired 16 schools. These efforts, according to local officials, allowed about 15,500 students to return to classes, once schools re-commenced on 2 December.

The remaining ADF personnel in Ormoc will now finalise preparations to return to Australia by air today (18 December). The Air Force component will support the redeployment of ADF personnel and are expected to return to Australia on 20 December. HMAS Tobruk arrived in Townsville yesterday and is expected to arrive in Sydney on 22 December.

Media note:

Further information on Operation Philippines Assist is at: http://www.defence.gov.au/operations/philippinesassist/home.asp

Imagery is available through the Defence Image Library: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132582 and http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132073

Vision will be fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House, Canberra.

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999