Minister for Defence - Operation PACIFIC ASSIST Update

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The Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Defence

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17 March 2015

Defence continues to support the Australian Government assistance mission to Vanuatu through Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) evacuated 199 people from Vanuatu to Brisbane late yesterday. The evacuees were transported in C-17A Globemaster III aircraft that returned to Australia after delivering more stores, equipment and personnel to Port Vila. There are currently approximately 50 ADF personnel deployed on the ground in Vanuatu.

Today a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft and a C-130J Hercules aircraft will continue moving personnel and equipment to Vanuatu, while a second C-17A prepares to transport additional humanitarian aid stores to Vanuatu tomorrow.

An Urban Search and Rescue Team is scheduled to be airlifted to Port Vila today. In addition, the RAAF will also deploy two KA350 King Air aircraft to Honiara, Solomon Islands, today to support the two RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft that are flying imagery reconnaissance missions over northern, central and southern Vanuatu.

HMAS Tobruk will arrive in Townsville today as part of preliminary measures to embark equipment, humanitarian aid stores, a Maritime Operational Health Unit and 3 Brigade force elements for possible deployment to Vanuatu. A Royal Australian Navy MRH90 Taipan helicopter will also join the ship.

The ADF are working closely with international counterparts, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and the United States. A United Kingdom Royal Air Force C-17A aircraft will arrive at RAAF Base Amberley with relief stores tomorrow and deploy to Vanuatu along side the ADF. The New Zealand Defence Force is delivering aid and relief teams to Port Vila and is also carrying out reconnaissance flights. French Navy reconnaissance aircraft are conducting reconnaissance flights in Vanuatu and French Naval Ship Vendemiaire will depart New Caledonia for Port Vila today. The United States has also stood up a US Marine Corps based Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief team in anticipation of US State Department tasking.

Media Contacts:
Chloe Petch (Minister Andrew’s Office) 0477 395 356
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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