Fiji thanks Royal Australian Navy for cyclone relief work

The Royal Fiji Military Forces band plays as HMAS Canberra approaches the Port of Suva, Fiji. Photo: Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Fiji Military Forces band plays as HMAS Canberra approaches the Port of Suva, Fiji. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

After the devastating cyclone named Winston hit Fiji on February 20, 2016 and left 42 people dead and caused significant material damage, Royal Australian Navy sent the HMAS Canberra landing helicopter dock to Fiji with 60 tonnes of emergency relief supplies, three MRH-90 helicopters and around 760 Australian Defence Force personnel including engineers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers to help the island country recover from the catastrophe.

Now, the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to Fiji in the days following tropical cyclone Winston will be remembered during HMAS Canberra’s return visit to Fiji on 17-20 August.

The amphibious ship is in Suva to conduct official engagements following Canberra’s participation in the multinational exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 16.

Canberra’s commanding officer Captain Chris Smith said he was looking forward to seeing how the country has continued to recover from the cyclone.

“We established some good relationships with the people of Fiji and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and I’m looking forward to building on those relationships, both personally and professionally,” he said.

A key activity during the visit is a Lessons Learnt Symposium, to discuss the successes and opportunities to improve post-disaster recovery efforts, allowing Australia and Fiji to be better prepared ahead of any future disaster response event.

“The Lessons Learnt Symposium will give us some feedback on what we achieved in Fiji and is an opportunity to reflect on the things that were successful and those we can improve on,” Captain Smith said.

Other activities include an official reception onboard the ship to welcome dignitaries and officials from the Government of Fiji, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and guests from the community, ship visits for community groups and organisations, a UNSCR Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security discussion, and a celebration of World Humanitarian Day.

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