HMAS Tobruk arrives in Ormoc for Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST
27 November 2013
As HMAS Tobruk steamed into Ormoc on the morning of 26 November, a light mist hid much of the city’s devastation.
It wasn’t until the mist lifted and the ship anchored just offshore that the true extent of the destruction became apparent.
Trees that hadn’t been uprooted had been stripped bare of their leaves, revealing scenes reminiscent of a bushfire.
As far as the eye could see were houses with their roofs ripped off, but despite the widespread damage, Filipino kids were still running around the beaches smiling and waving.
Two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats with divers from Clearance Diving Team Four, and the ship’s boat carrying Navy hydrographers, were the first into the water to begin their tasks of checking the conditions around the port areas.
A pair of 35 Water Transport Squadron LARC Vs (amphibious cargo vehicles) were next into the water, reversing carefully down Tobruk’s stern ramp, before setting off to conduct a reconnaissance of the shore line.
One LARC drove onto a beach near the city centre and instantly drew a large crowd of interested onlookers, many of them children.
While reconnaissance was conducted, the ship’s Army detachment lowered two mechanised landing craft into the water, causing the big ship to list to starboard briefly.
Later LARCs ferried elements of 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment ashore. With the arrival of HMASTobruk, the next stage of Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST is well under way.
Eyewitness account by Sergeant Dave Morley