No. 37 Squadron pilots Flight Lieutenant Jack Woodrow (left) and Flying Officer John Newell fly along the coastline of Tonga to assess damage after the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano.
Earlier last week, the world paused at the sight of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano as it erupted, sending a catastrophic tsunami that decimated many of the small islands surrounding the nation of Tonga and the mainland.
Today we are taking you inside The Department of Foreign Affairs aid effort, which the Australian Defence Force is heading up with HMAS Adelaide, leaving Brisbane overnight. Also taking part in the operation are air reconnaissance operations including a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, airlift support using C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft.
Onboard are much needed humanitarian stores, heavy equipment and personnel, including engineering teams, medical staff and rotary wing support vehicles to help with distribution and recovery efforts.
Touching down yesterday was a C-17 Globemaster III unloading much-needed aid and engineering equipment at Fua’amotu International Airport, Tonga.
Major General Winter said all support to Tonga would be in accordance with agreed Tongan COVID-19 protocols. “A rigorous testing regime has been part of the pre-deployment,” Major General Winter said. “All embarked troops have had a negative PCR test and are fully vaccinated. “There will be an ongoing testing regime to ensure we do everything we can to ensure we are mitigating the COVID risk.”
Expected to arrive in Tonga in the coming days, HMAS Adelaide will deliver the bulk of the operations equipment needed to facilitate the recovery, along with other support from New Zealand, which has already arrived and additional support expected from HMNZS Canterbury in the coming days.