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Global Operations

Op PACIFIC ASSIST 2015

Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015

Australian Army soldiers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment unload humanitarian stores from a LARC-V amphibious vehicle at Dillon's Bay on the island of Erromango, Vanuatu, on 28 March 2015.

Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015 was the Australian Defence Force's response to the devastation brought by Tropical Cyclone Pam to Vanuatu in March 2015.

More than 500 soldiers, sailors, aircrew deployed during the operation, providing help across the archipelago and significantly assisting the recovery process in the wake of the Category 5 cyclone.

Australian troops played a major part in the immediate relief effort, repairing key infrastructure, restoring basic services and delivering more than 115 tonnes of vital humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support throughout Vanuatu.

Through their efforts, access to clean water was restored, schools, community buildings and medical facilities were repaired, and remote communities regained access to food and shelter.

The initial ADF response included the rapid delivery of Australian aid and emergency personnel using Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster strategic transport aircraft and C-130J Hercules aircraft. AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft also provided reconnaissance support over Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to provide emergency officials with a clearer picture of the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Military support was also provided by French, British and New Zealand Defence Forces.

The amphibious operations ship HMAS Tobruk deployed with Army engineers, vehicles and additional aid. On arrival, Tobruk provided the maritime base for much of the ADF's high-tempo post-disaster recovery operations in the outer islands.

Tobruk offloaded tonnes of stores using two LARC-Vs amphibious cargo vehicles, two LCM-8 landing craft and an embarked Navy MRH-90 multi-role helicopter.

Army engineers from the Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment also made a significant contribution to the citizens of the worst affected southern islands of Tanna and Erromango.

On Tanna, engineers undertook tasks including restoring the water supply to the eight major population centres, repairs to four medical centres, four churches and 11 schools.

On nearby Erromango, a small group of engineers joined sailors from Tobruk in clearing storm damage from the communities of Dillon's Bay and Happy Land. They also conducted route clearance tasks, infrastructure repairs and aid delivery.

Army also contributed three Black Hawk helicopters from the 6th Aviation Regiment, the aircrew and ground crew working tirelessly to move aid to outlying islands.

The RAAF flew more than 260 sorties in support of the mission; C17-A and C130-J aircraft flew aid, stores and personnel for the ADF, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other responding agencies, while RAAF KA-350 King Air tactical aircraft worked tirelessly to provide inter-island transport.

The professionalism, dedication and commitment of the deployed Australian forces were fundamental to Defence's ability to assist Vanuatu to recover from the disaster.

Australian humanitarian assistance continues to flow into the most heavily affected areas of Vanuatu.

The remote islands of Erromango, Tanna and Ambrym Islands are now receiving vital aid, supplies and post-disaster engineering assistance from the Australian Defence Force personnel assigned to Joint Task Force 665.

As well as providing villages with much needed food, water, shelter and medical equipment, engineers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment are clearing roads, removing debris, and rebuilding community infrastructure.

Elements of the Engineering Support Group on Tanna have commenced major repair and reconstruction works at Lenakel Hospital.

At Dillon Bay, Erromango Island, troops have repaired a church, a distribution centre and a school. The village chief, Jason Mete, said this would help return life to normal for the 600 people of his village.

"We are fortunate to have the Australian troops here bringing us these stores and we would like to thank the people of Australia," he said.

Commander Joint Task Force 665 Captain Jay Bannister RAN said the mission continued at a very high tempo, bringing impressive results.

"The impact of our people on the ground has been phenomenal," he said.

"Seeing the relief, the thanks, the smiles, and the appreciation written across the faces of those that have been struggling for a while gives us a deep sense of pride and accomplishment."

More than 500 ADF personnel are deployed in Vanuatu as part of Operation Pacific Assist 2015.