The New Zealand government announced today that New Zealand Defence Force vessels, HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Wellington will be dispatched to carry Kiwi aid and to support relief efforts in Fiji as it recovers from Tropical Cyclone Winston.
HMNZS Wellington is expected to sail from Devonport tomorrow afternoon and HMNZS Canterbury on Sunday 28 February.
Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand said both ships would carry vital aid supplies as well as equipment.
“Our contributions were all part of our combined inter-agency effort to provide relief and support to Fiji at this difficult time,” Air Commodore McEvoy said.
“Our personnel are here to help and are keen to get on the ground and assist the Fijian community.”
Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft are also in the air today in support of Fiji.
- A C-130 Hercules departed from Auckland carrying more than 16,000kg of aid including shelters, tarpaulins, tools, and generators. It will arrive at Suva Airport at around 4.10pm local time.
- A Boeing 757 departed from Ohakea Air Force Base carrying 35 New Zealand Army engineers including plumbers, electricians, and field engineers who will start work alongside soldiers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces clearing debris and repairing buildings. The Boeing will arrive this evening.
Major Chris Wilson, who is in charge of the Army engineering team, said training exercises such as Tropic Twilight and the recently completed Southern Katipo 2015 meant his team were well-versed in sending small platoon-sized units into these situations.
“From a personal perspective, I can’t wait to get there. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to provide this level of support in a situation like this,” Major Wilson said.
HMNZS Canterbury, a sealift and amphibious support ship, has an extensive range of capabilities including the ability to land personnel, vehicles and cargo by landing craft, helicopter or ramps, as well as conventional port infrastructure.