Home' Navy News : October 29th 2009 Contents Ready to help
brings aid to
October 29, 2009
HMAS Kanimbla at
anchor in Darwin
departing for Sumatra.
Photo: ABIS Andrew Dakin
CHECK IT OUT: (Right) An Indonesian
military official watches a beach
survey team from HMAS Kanimbla
approach the beach landing site at
Photo: CPL Guy Young
By LEUT Gary McHugh
HMAS Kanimbla arrived at the earth-
quake stricken region of Sumatra
on October 16 as part of Operation
Padang Assist, the Australian
Government's response to a request
for humanitarian assistance from
Kanimbla, which left Sydney two
weeks earlier, anchored off the town
of Pariaman, north of Padang, and
immediately began offloading heavy
engineering equipment and Army per-
sonnel for joint TNI-ADF relief opera-
Pariaman, the town closest to the
earthquakes' epicentres, is the nearest
town to a number of remote commu-
nities that suffered extensive damage
during the disaster.
Like most of Sumatra, the area is
surrounded by steep, tree-lined moun-
tains, with many of them suffering
significant landslide as a result of the
Kanimbla's CO CMDR Timothy
Byles said the time spent en route to
Indonesia had given his ship's crew
and embarked forces a chance to hone
their skills to ensure Kanimbla's con-
tribution to the relief effort "hit the
"As soon as the Navy hydrogra-
phers had charted a clear and safe
route to the beach, we began offload-
ing equipment and personnel via the
landing craft that we embarked in
Townsville," he said.
"We expect to make a significant
contribution to Operation Padang
Assist, which is a joint effort between
the ADF, the TNI (Indonesian military)
and various aid agencies.
"One of the first landing craft to
return to the ship from the beach car-
ried two TNI liaison officers who we
are working closely with to ensure
the equipment and personnel we have
brought are deployed to the areas
where they are most needed."
The TNI representatives, both naval
officers based in Jakarta, remained on
board Kanimbla for a number of days.
During their time on the ship, they
provided a valuable point of contact
between Kanimbla's CO, the Joint
Task Force and the TNI.
The ship also embarked two Sea
King helicopters from 817 Squadron in
Nowra as part of the operation.
Flight Commander LCDR Natalee
Johnston said the helicopters were
being used to access remote regions
of Sumatra that were cut off following
"The Sea King is a very versatile
aircraft that gives us the ability to
transport personnel and equipment to
remote villages that are not accessible
by road as a result of the earthquakes,"
"Because we have two aircraft on
board, we can be more flexible -- this
means we can use one as a stand-by
medical evacuation unit and the other
for daily tasking."
The ship's aircraft spent the first
day on location assessing the immedi-
ate area for alternate landing zones
close to the Joint Task Force temporary
The Sea King was also used to
transport personnel and to collect mail
from Padang Airport, which survived
the earthquakes relatively unscathed.
Kanimbla is also carrying a Primary
Care Reception Facility that will be
used to treat ADF personnel should the
The ship will remain on location
until tasked otherwise.
BYE FOR NOW!: (Above) LSA
Dean Morgan waves to onlookers
as Sea King 22 departs a football
field near Pariaman.
HAPPIER: (Right) Kids play soc-
cer out the front of 1HSB where a
temporary school has been estab-
Photos: ABIS Andrew Dakin
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