HMAS Canberra puts amphibious capabilities to good use in Op Fiji Assist

Royal Australian Navy’s landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Canberra, stationed off the Coast of Fiji’s Koro Island, began amphibious operations March 2 to help those affected by tropical Cyclone Winston which struck Fiji on February 20.

Commander Joint Task Force 635, Captain Brett Sonter, said the level of devastation on Koro Island would provide a challenge for all personnel involved in the operation.

“Koro Island was directly in the path of Cyclone Winston so subsequently there is very little on the island that hasn’t been damaged in some way,” Captain Sonter said.

The Captain further said that elements of the landing force proceeding ashore would contain two sections of engineers from the Republic of Fiji Military Force which were transported from Suva at the request of the Government of Fiji.

Beach clearance was conducted prior to landing by soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, ensuring the chosen landing sites were clear for craft.

Commander of the Land Force, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bassingthwaighte, said the force disembarking Canberra was united in its resolve to help the people of Koro Island.

Lieutenant Colonel Bassingthwaighte said: “We have an incredible depth of talented and dedicated men and women involved in this operation. A significant challenge lies ahead for those on the ground, but we know we will make a difference over the coming days.”

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