Choules delivers troops to New Zealand
23 October 2017
HMAS Choules has delivered a combined force of 150 soldiers and marines from Australia and Tonga to New Zealand to participate Exercise Southern Katipo 2017.
Choules demonstrated her versatility when she arrived alongside at Picton in New Zealand’s South Island only a week after supporting the real Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) mission Operation Vanuatu Assist 2017.
As part of the Southern Katipo exercise scenario, Choules was approached by role-playing protestors in small boats during her transit through the Marlborough Sounds to the wharf at Picton, forcing her to close-up and practice force protection, assisted by HMNZS Wellington and a Royal New Zealand Navy Seasprite Helicopter.
Soldiers from the New Zealand Army provided security detail on the wharf so that Choules could safely come alongside and land six Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, a number of Unimog trucks and G-Wagons, as well as troops from both the Australian Army’s 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and the Royal Tongan Marines.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Choules, Commander Dave Graham said Exercise Southern Katipo provided the Ship’s Company with another good opportunity to test their interoperability with Australia’s neighbours in the southwest pacific.
“The most important thing here is that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our mates in this region and demonstrating that we can all work together to provide a HADR response,” Commander Graham said.
“This is a critical capability in this part of the world as shown by recent events.
Commander Graham said it was only three and a half weeks ago Choules was in Townsville, proceeding to Southern Katipo, when it was redirected to assist in Vanuatu.
“We were re-roled in a matter of days and able to go to Vanuatu and deliver an effect there that helped more than two-thousand people,” he said.
“Then we were able to proceed directly to New Zealand for this exercise.
“That’s a pretty amazing demonstration of the versatility provided by this capability.”
The troops landed ashore by Choules will now join a 13-nation coalition force in the field where the exercise scenario, centred on an international assistance mission, will get underway.
The biennial exercise Southern Katipo is the largest coalition and joint exercise conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force.