Navy completes cyclone assist tasks
8 April 2017
As North Queensland continues its transition from the emergency response to the recovery phase, HMAS Choules and Melville have completed their tasks, in consultation with the Queensland Government, and now returned to normal duties with the Royal Australian Navy. Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston said both ships provided valuable assistance in Operation Queensland Assist 17 under Joint Task Force 661 to support those affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. “Hydrographic survey vessel HMAS Melville conducted port surveys across the region and used its Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat to guide ferries with 535 evacuees from the Whitsunday Islands across to Airlie Beach, Vice Admiral Johnston said. “As part of the immediate post cyclone response, the ship also joined with the 5th Aviation Regiment to deliver 1300L of potable water to tourists and staff stranded on one of islands." The amphibious ship, HMAS Choules, which was the on call Navy disaster response vessel, was also tasked to support the Queensland community. “Choules carried significant humanitarian and disaster relief stores and engineer equipment," Vice Admiral Johnston said. “The ship delivered Australian Army engineers and Assault Pioneers, joined by Clearance Divers from the Royal Australian Navy’s Clearance Dive Team One, ashore to assist in the clearing of debris at Conway Beach near Proserpine.” In response to rising flood-waters in Rockhampton, Choules anchored off Yeppoon and worked with four Army LCM8 watercraft from the 10th Force Support Battalion, to land engineering assets from the 6th Engineer Support Regiment. In a 36-hour window 80 troops and 43 vehicles were delivered ashore in the Yeppoon region, to be available to support local communities. “Our sailors, soldiers, airmen and women have welcomed the chance to assist communities, emergency services and volunteers during Operation Queensland Assist 2017,” Vice Admiral Johnston said. “Although the ships have concluded their support to the operation, other Australian Defence Force units are continuing to support communities in areas affected by the cyclone. The ADF is continuing to support the Queensland Government through the ongoing recovery phase.” Joint Task Force 661, comprising personnel and engineering equipment from the Townsville based 3 Brigade, was established to provide Defence assistance to state disaster response options in support of the Queensland Government to Tropical Cyclone Debbie.