From: Defence Media
Sent: Fri 27/03/2015 4:10 PM

Australian Forces at work on Tanna Island

Australian aid continues to support regional Vanuatu with the arrival of HMAS Tobruk off the west coast of Tanna in Vanuatu’s southern Tafea Province. Loaded with military engineers, plant equipment and humanitarian aid, Tobruk’s presence will bring relief to the people of one of the islands hardest hit by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam.

HMAS Tobruk arrived at Tanna on March 25 and will transfer personnel and equipment ashore using two embarked Army LCM-8 landing craft and a Navy MRH90 helicopter once bad weather clears.

Meanwhile, ADF aircraft continue to shuttle personnel and stores within Vanuatu.

ADF support to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led relief effort is being conducted under Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015 through the 500-strong Joint Task Force 665 (JTF665).

Commander JTF665 Captain Jay Bannister RAN said the overall effort so far has been significant.

“Despite the challenges involved in sustained natural disaster response, I am extremely proud of the way the men and women of the ADF have responded to help one of our closest neighbours and dearest friends,” CAPT Bannister said.

“We will continue to work tirelessly with our French and New Zealand partners to provide aid and recovery response to those most in need.”

Australian engineers and advance parties on Tanna are conducting beach surveys to locate suitable amphibious landing zones, as well clearing routes for vehicle mobility.

“Concurrently, we have started delivering aid to the island of Erromango using the MRH90 helicopter embarked on HMAS Tobruk and by S-70 Black Hawks to Anatom,” CAPT Bannister said.

“Our main priority is to help improve the lives of those who are doing it tough, as quickly as we can.”

The ADF has so far delivered over 145 pallets of cargo to Vanuatu since the start of the operation.

Two Army S-70 Black Hawk helicopters and a RAAF King Air are providing tactical transport of personnel and stores to outlying areas from Port Vila, while RAAF C-17A Globemaster and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft are continuing to provide airlift between Australia and Vanuatu.

Media contacts:

Chloe Petch (Minister Andrews’ Office) 0477 395 356

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