The Government of Tonga has expressed its gratitude for HMAS Adelaide’s delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief stores by sending the ship a giant fresh-fruit gift.
CAPTION: Navy sailor Seaman combat systems operator Mark Duivesteyn carries fruit gifted from the Tonga onboard HMAS Adelaide during Operation Tonga Assist 2022. Story by Lieutenant Brendan Trembath. Photo by Leading Seaman David Cox.
Adelaide received dozens of bags of coconuts, pineapples, bananas and watermelons after Tonga’s Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni phoned Commanding Officer Captain Stuart Watters to send best wishes and acknowledge the Australian Defence Force’s support.
“I was incredibly humbled by the gesture,” said Captain Watters.
“It is a fantastic gift and everyone is getting a little taste of Tonga.”
The first load came in a Royal Australian Navy MRH-90 helicopter, which was collecting Defence industry contractors from Fua’amotu international airport, followed by a second flight to collect the rest of the fruit.
The gift is a tangible sign of the close bond between Tonga and Australia.
“Our Tongan friends are looking out for us and we are looking out for them,” said Captain Watters.
After the helicopter landed on Adelaide’s flight deck many hands offloaded the fruit and passed it hand to hand to a lower deck.
“It was great to join in the daisy chain which was passing huge bags all the way into the galley,” said Chaplain Kate Lord.
“Everyone is really excited about tasting this wonderful tropical fruit. To have this gift was a lovely surprise.”
Army cook Corporal Darcy Wratten said the produce is perfect for breakfast fruit platters.
“The fruit has really been well receive, it‘s really good quality, and a boost to morale.”
The bounty of coconuts, pineapples, bananas and watermelons is a product of Tonga’s fertile volcanic soil, favourable climate and the generous spirit of its people.