Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Canberra has been deployed to Vanuatu following two tropical cyclones.
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The 230-metre-long Canberra Class landing helicopter dock ship was dispatched from Sydney by the Australian government on 5 March.
An assistance request was made by the government of Vanuatu after cyclones Judy and Kevin made landfall within 48 hours of each other, triggering a state of emergency for the Pacific Island nation on 3 March.
A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster aircraft has already reached the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila with a 12-person rapid assessment team, aerial damage assessors, and humanitarian assistance including shelters, water purification supplies, and essential items.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said HMAS Canberra will carry more than 600 Australian Defence Force personnel and coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support the whole-of-government response to the cyclones.
“HMAS Canberra has a significant capacity to provide ship-to-shore connections via its landing craft and three embarked Australian Army CH-47 helicopters, fresh water, and has its own hospital facilities.
“The ADF personnel on board bring recent experience from other relief efforts in the region over the past two years and Defence is proud to support a member of the Pacific family.”
Foreign Affairs Minister and Senator Penny Wong said the Australian government is also working with France and New Zealand agencies to support the government of Vanuatu’s response.
“Our close partnership with Vanuatu means we have been able to mobilise assistance quickly and contribute to the government of Vanuatu’s immediate requests following tropical cyclones Judy and Kevin.
“With HMAS Canberra we are providing more humanitarian supplies and much needed logistical support. This shows our continued commitment to the Pacific family.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy said the Australian government will deploy a rapid assessment team to survey cyclone damage at the request of the government of Vanuatu.
“The Pacific family can rely on Australia to work with them in times of crisis.
“The deployment of HMAS Canberra follows two RAAF aircraft and Australia’s rapid assessment team, who are supporting the government of Vanuatu to assess the impacts of these cyclones.”