HMAS Canberra home after Vanuatu relief effort

More than 600 Australian Defence Force personnel have returned home on board HMAS Canberra after supporting Vanuatu following devastating tropical cyclones.

CAPTION: HMAS Canberra berthed at the Port of Townsville, Queensland, after returning from Operation Vanuatu Assist 23. Story by Captain Joanne Leca. Photo by Lance Corporal Riley Blennerhassett.

Since March 5, ADF personnel have been deployed on Operation Vanuatu Assist 23, supporting the people of Vanuatu through initial humanitarian assistance, which included providing shelters, water purification supplies and other essential items for impacted communities.

Lieutenant Ellen Rosengreen from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment was troop commander for the combat rescue team, who conducted clean up and remediation operations on the ground to repair damaged infrastructure.

Lieutenant Rosengreen said it was a rewarding experience to be a part of the relief effort in Vanuatu.

“We were able to mobilise our forces rapidly to locations that needed us most,” Lieutenant Rosengreen said.

“When we got there, our engineers were able to assist local communities with the clean-up and remediation of local schools and hospitals.”

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CAPTION: Lieutenant Ellen Rosengreen, left, Commanding Officer HMAS Canberra Captain Jace Hutchison, Commander Landing Forces Colonel Douglas Pashley, Specialist Stephen Zanetti and Petty Officer Kane Robinson in front of HMAS Canberra at the Port of Townsville, Queensland. Photo by Lance Corporal Riley Blennerhassett.

The Australian Government responded to the Government of Vanuatu’s request for assistance after Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin passed over the country in early March.

Lieutenant Rosengreen said she was proud of her team’s contribution to the relief effort.

“We repaired the hospital, which enabled the local community to provide vital health care,” Lieutenant Rosengreen said.

“We became really close with the people there, and when the time came for us to leave it was really hard.

“The response we got from locals was positive; despite having gone through a natural disaster, they were happy to see us and welcomed us like family.”

HMAS Canberra sailed from Sydney at the request of the Vanuatu Government, with more than 600 embarked personnel, three Chinook helicopters, more than 40 vehicles, small boats, landing craft and a range of humanitarian supplies and logistical support.

Approximately 60 Australian Army engineers and supporting personnel have remained in Vanuatu to continue providing engineering support.


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