UPDATE// OPERATION TONGA ASSIST 22
A new phase of disaster relief assistance has commenced in Tonga, with Australian and Fijian military engineers undertaking clearance and recovery operations on Atata Island.
At the request of the Government of Tonga, soldiers from Army’s 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment are clearing debris and repairing or stabilising buildings and infrastructure which were damaged by the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami.
The Australians have been joined by a Republic of Fiji Military Forces contingent, which flew from Australia to Tonga via a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft and then moved directly to HMAS Adelaide via Australian Army CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
Operation TONGA ASSIST 22 is the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) is contribution to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-led effort to support the Government of Tonga following the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on 15 January and subsequent tsunami. HMAS Adelaide arrived in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa on 26 January to deliver more than 250 pallets of humanitarian and disaster relief stores.
Embarked ADF and Republic of Fiji’s Military Forces personnel are working side-by-side supporting clean-up efforts on the island of Atata.
HMAS Supply departed its homeport of Sydney on 6 February with more than half a million litres of fuel and humanitarian and disaster relief stores. The 173-metre long Auxiliary Oiler is designed to re-supply other ships and is available to help sustain vessels from partner nations delivering assistance to the Government of Tonga.
Air support to Operation TONGA ASSIST 22 has included air reconnaissance to assess damage using P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, while more than 119 tonnes of humanitarian and disaster relief stores have been delivered using C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft.