The Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Choules has arrived at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, to support Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) activities as part of Operation LANDSCAPE.
Approximately 60 ADF personnel assigned to Joint Task Force 638 have been deployed or have already directly supported Operation LANDSCAPE after an announcement by the Australian Government on 19 July 2013 to increase the capacity of accommodation facilities on Manus Island.
Wing Commander Kirrily Dearing, Commander Joint Task Force 638, said the operation had initially utilised specialist logistic, survey and engineering personnel from Army and Air Force.
“What we have seen so far is our ability to stand up a very professional and capable response to important tasks at very short notice to a distant location,” WGCDR Dearing said.
“The personnel were predominantly Air Force and Army logisticians, engineers and surveyors undertaking detailed survey and remediation of sites for construction of living and working accommodation by DIAC contractors.
“The deployed Army personnel were from 6 Brigade and Air Force personnel were predominantly from 1 Airfield Operations Support Squadron (1AOSS) in Townsville and 381 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron (381ECSS) at Newcastle and other support capabilities.”
WGCDR Dearing said Air Force had moved more than 104 tonnes of cargo into PNG with C130J and King Air moving 49.5 tonnes of cargo directly into Manus Island since the first of five flights on 22 July 2013.
“Our main works focused on the Manus Island site with trade and survey tasks, however, other personnel were utilised for the logistics task at Port Moresby airport and other jobs.
“At one stage we had 49 personnel deployed to PNG working in quite arduous conditions.”
Navy’s HMAS Choules has now arrived with 132 crew members onboard to provide afloat accommodation, ship-shore transport capability along with logistic and general operational support.
Acting Chief of Joint Operations, Commodore Aaron Ingram, commended the efforts of all personnel who he said showcased the capabilities of the ADF in a joint environment.
“We have a lot of very smart, talented and hard-working people in the ADF and this is another example of how we can assist other agencies in achieving important tasks as part of a wider team,” CDRE Ingram said.
“The ADF has now completed all construction and remediation works requests on Manus Island and handed over the delegated projects to DIAC.
“Planning will commence shortly to return personnel and equipment back to Australia while continuing to support our people who remain working in PNG, our aviators in Port Moresby and our sailors at Manus Island in HMAS Choules.”
Defence will not be responsible for managing or providing security to the DIAC facilities.
Press Release, August 9, 2013; Image: Australian Navy