The Australian Defence Vessel Reliant has docked in Tonga ahead of the nation’s high-risk weather season to make preparations for future relief taskings.
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The visit was designed to enable the Tongan government to better understand how the ADV Reliant will be able to support in the event of a weather incident. In addition to humanitarian support, Defence has confirmed that the ship is able to provide surveillance capabilities and training to Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
“Australia is working with Tonga to address shared challenges, including climate change effects and greater demands for disaster relief as we enter the cyclone season,” Rachael Moore, the Australian high commissioner to Tonga, said.
“By understanding what Reliant has to offer, we can better respond to taskings from our Pacific partners and complement the capabilities in Tonga.”
With a large caring and cargo deck, as well as two shallow-bottomed landing craft, the vessel is able to provide critical support including thousands of liters of fresh water each day.
Speaking to Defence, Commander David Ince, the RAN’s liaison officer on board the Reliant described the ship as a “Swiss Army knife”.
“She comes packed with different tools that can be used in multiple situations,” CMDR Ince said.
“In the event of a natural disaster, we can provide humanitarian aid including water, food and shelter and our landing craft can deliver supplies to small islands or assist in evacuations.”
The ADV Reliant is expected to remain in the Pacific to continue providing essential support to the nation’s regional partners.
Deputy Chief of Defence Staff to His Majesty’s Armed Forces Tonga, Captain Sione Ulakai, welcomed the ongoing relationship.
“Australia not only assists us in force development, but also capability development which is important for our country as a maritime nation,” CAPT Ulakai told Defence.
“Learning to do things on our own is part of the resilience we need to tackle issues and challenges before partners arrive,” he said.