TC Winston

Gigantic naval vessel HMS Canberra out to rebuild our islands

The HMAS Canberra, a $2.1 billion completely self-sufficient aid vessel, leaves Suva this afternoon to serve in rebuilding efforts in the maritime zone. The naval vessel which couldn’t get into the Suva Harbour this morning because of its sheer size has on board a full-service medical team, a group of engineers and six desalination plants capable […]

Peni Shute

March 1, 2016 10:33 am

The HMAS Canberra, a $2.1 billion completely self-sufficient aid vessel, leaves Suva this afternoon to serve in rebuilding efforts in the maritime zone.

The Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in Fiji during the TC Winston relief effort, Captain Brett Sonter Photo: Lice Movono Rova/Newswire
The Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in Fiji during the TC Winston relief effort, Captain Brett Sonter Photo: Lice Movono Rova/Newswire

The naval vessel which couldn’t get into the Suva Harbour this morning because of its sheer size has on board a full-service medical team, a group of engineers and six desalination plants capable of producing large quantities of water amongst its original cargo, sent at the request of the Fiji Government.

Commanding Officer Christopher Smith said the vessel, on its first operational voyage, was ideal and its crew well trained to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief work.

There is a lot of asset here to help your government and your people. There are approximately 1000 people and we think that is about the right numbers to aid you in the necessities of what is required here and now.

The 880 souls on board the ship who come from the navy, air force, land force and defence administration are tasked with debris clearance, water purification and the delivery of first aid.

Commander Brett Sonter, who now leads the Australian Joint Task Force in Fiji said the 1000 strong Australian military presence was prepared to be in the country for up to a month depending on the needs of the Fiji National Disaster Management Office.

The vessel carries amphibian crafts which will enable teams on the HMAS Canberra to land heavy equipment anywhere their help is required, including islands without jetties. Containers of food, shelter and other relief supplies will be dropped into areas where the Fiji military needs it.

We had a robust training package designed at a humanitarian aid and disaster relief focus so i am confident that this platform and for that matter all the Australian Defence force can deliver to the Fijian government what they want.

The vessel and its crew have been in training for a year since it was commissioned for exact missions such as this, Commander Sonter said. From the Suva Harbour, the vessel began to deliver people and supplies to Koro to support the Fiji Military work on Koro.

We can provide first aid, the engineering support force we have on board can do the engineering assessments, they can do water purification, they can do basic rebuilding and give assistance towards those forces and government agencies already out there.

The vessel will carry on board two Fiji Navy representatives to serve as liaison officers during the HMAS voyages in Fiji waters.

Australian High Commission Deputy High Commissioner Karinda D’Aloisio said that asides from the Australian Defence Force assets in the country, their governments total humanitarian assistance package for TC Winston work was worth $23 million FJD.

The HMAS Canberra worth $2.14 billion FJD is the largest vessel in the Australian Navy. Photo: Lice Movono Rova/Newswire
The HMAS Canberra worth $2.14 billion FJD is the largest vessel in the Australian Navy. Photo: Lice Movono Rova/Newswire.

Earlier: HMAS Canberra arrives with relief, too big for Suva harbour

The HMAS Canberra, the 230-meter flagship of the Australian Navy has arrived in Suva.

The HMAS Canberra has a hull of 10metres and places in the Suva Harbour are only 2metres deep.  Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Karinda D’Aloisio led a team to observe the handover of command of the Australian forces in the country.

On 23 February 2016, the Government of Fiji requested the deployment of HMAS Canberra to assist in the relief operation in Fiji.

The HMAS Canberra departed Brisbane on 26 February and is carrying approximately 60 tonnes of emergency relief supplies on board. This includes family kits which include hygiene, shelter, kitchen and bedding materials.

It is also carrying three MRH-90 helicopters (bringing the total number of Australian helicopters in Fiji to seven), water purification equipment and medical and humanitarian supplies.

There are 880 people on board from the Australian Defence Force, including engineers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers

As agreed with the NDMO, the Ship will be deployed initially to the area near Koro Island and will work closely to support the Government of Fiji’s efforts to assess and repair critical infrastructure and services.

The HMAS Canberra will assist local officials to clear debris, restore power, purify water and conduct engineering assessments.

This is the first deployment of HMAS Canberra in support of a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operation overseas.

At 27,000 tonnes and over 230m long, the Canberra is one of the largest ships ever constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

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