HMAS Adelaide has finalised the loading of humanitarian and disaster relief stores, equipment and personnel in readiness to aid recovery efforts in Tonga.
CAPTION: ADF personnel embark onto HMAS Adelaide at the Port of Brisbane before departure on Operation Tonga Assist 2022. Story by Captain Zoe Griffyn. Photo by Corporal Robert Whitmore.
Commander Joint Task Force 637 Major General Scott Winter said Australia’s contribution was part of a wider relief effort that included regional partners.
“We are proud to work alongside His Majesty’s Tonga Armed Forces as well as other Pacific family partners including Fiji, New Zealand, Japan, United States, India, France and the UK as we start to coordinate this effort in support of a very important member of our Pacific Family,” Major General Winter said.
Major General Winter said the ship would provide a flexible capability to support the relief effort.
“The forces on board Adelaide are tailored to the requests of the Government of Tonga and include provision of clean water, the movement of stores and reconnaissance,” he said.
“Adelaide’s desalination capability can produce a significant amount of clean water, which is one of the first priorities.”
Adelaide provides the most suitable heavy-lift platform to transport substantial quantities of personnel, equipment and provisions and can accommodate the ADF elements for the duration of the deployment without impacting on the local resources in the affected areas.
Disaster relief support includes engineering, medical and helicopters to support logistics and distribution in Tonga.
Major General Winter said all support to Tonga would be in accordance with agreed Tongan COVID-19 protocols.
“A rigorous testing regime has been part of the pre-deployment,” Major General Winter said.
“All embarked troops have had a negative PCR test and are fully vaccinated.
“There will be an ongoing testing regime to ensure we do everything we can to ensure we are mitigating the COVID risk.”
Adelaide is expected to arrive off the coast of Tonga within a week.
The ADF is supporting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led effort to support the Government of Tonga following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on January 15 and the subsequent tsunami.