Home' Navy News : November 26th 2009 Contents By LEUT Todd Austin
HMAS Tobruk (CMDR Peter
Thompson) has sailed between the
islands of Samoa and Tonga for the
past two weeks delivering 500 tonnes
of much-needed humanitarian assist-
ance and reconstruction equipment
as part of Operation Samoa Assist.
Tobruk left Sydney on October
27, loaded with relief packages from
AusAID comprising heavy earthmov-
ing equipment to assist clearance and
reconstruction on the Tongan island
of Niuatoputapu. Also on board was
humanitarian aid and other items like
clothing, medical and Red Cross sup-
plies donated by non-government
organisations in Australia and a large
consignment of donated goods from
the Australian community.
After 15 days at sea, Tobruk ber-
thed in Samoa's capital, Apia, on
November 9. Once secured, the Ship's
Army Detachment immediately started
unloading the much-needed supplies
and equipment on the Matautu Tai
Wharf ready for distribution.
In Samoa, about 3000 people are
still homeless because of the tsunami,
with more than half of those people
still living under tents and tarpaulins.
A special part of the humanitarian
aid package for Samoa was a delivery
to the Samoan Fire and Emergency
Service on Remembrance Day.
The keys to a $400,000 fire truck,
which was generously donated by the
Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade,
were handed to the Commissioner of
Samoa's Fire and Emergency Services.
It was a special ceremony for the fire
fighting community in Samoa, as the
fire truck had been dedicated in honour
of fire fighter Peter Letiu, who lost his
life in the service of his country on the
day of the tsunami.
Tobruk's CO CMDR Peter
Thompson said the entire ship's com-
pany felt enormously proud being part
of the aid package delivery.
"After staying for three days and
assisting the Samoans as much as we
could, it was a sad moment to leave
such a beautiful country that had been
badly hit by tragedy, knowing that it's
a long road ahead for them," he said.
"But the Samoans were fabulous
to the crew; the ship's company was
honoured to have played a small part
of their recovery process."
The next stage of the operation saw
Tobruk spend three days anchored off
a little island in Tonga, Niuatoputapu,
which was one of the hardest hit
islands in the vicinity of the earthquake
Sixty per cent of the homes on
the island were destroyed with 192
families left without accommodation.
Almost two thirds of the population of
1000 are living on the island with no
housing, no clothing and no posses-
sions apart from what they were able
to carry to higher ground before the
four-metre wave hit.
This part of the humanitarian assist-
ance package will allow local authori-
ties to start rebuilding after the severe
damage caused by the disaster. The
ship's crew also scheduled time to
assist in the clean up process.
CMDR Thompson said that, after
the success of the efforts in Samoa,
the ship's crew were extremely excit-
ed about continuing the humanitarian
Off-loading the aid and equipment
took just over two days, with the ship's
company working alongside the locals
to ensure a speedy unload and distribu-
tion.Working parties, together with the
local communities, cleaned up areas of
debris and rubbish, including the local
hospital that had been completey gut-
ted by the tsunami.
Very few buildings were left stand-
ing and the reconstruction equipment
and materials that were unloaded are
the lynch pin that will allow rebuilding
November 26, 2009
Tobruk's proud mission
(02) 6265 4650
(02) 6266 7707
Mob: 0434 622 850
(02) 6266 7613
(02) 9359 2494
LSIS Paul McCallum
(02) 6266 7615
LCDR Antony Underwood
(02) 6265 2700
(02) 6265 7219
(07) 3332 7651
Mob: 0414 552 667
A/Manager Navy Internal
LEUT Kate Mathews
(02) 6265 7985
(02) 6266 7607
R8-LG-041, Russell Offices,
Canberra ACT 2600
Navy News Editorial Board
Rod Horan, Director Defence
Alisha Welch, Editor Navy
LCDR Wendy Hughes,
A/Director Navy Reputation
LEUT Kate Mathews,
A/Manager Navy Internal
WON Mark Tandy, Warrant
Officer of the Navy
CMDR Dina Kinsman,
Director of Reserves (Navy)
LCDR Tony Underwood,
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At the time of press, Tobruk
was sailing to the Tongan capital
Nuku'alofa to pick up further supplies
and equipment for a second trip to
Niuatoputapu. Once this second off-
load is completed, she will sail back
to her home port at Fleet Base East to
give the crew a much-needed break
The delivery of humanitarian aid
and equipment to the communities in
Samoa and Tonga has brought the total
assistance by Australia to $13 million.
CLEAN UP: (Right and below
left) Sailors help locals clean up
Lalomanu Beach in Samoa.
HUNGRY WORK: (Below right)
Sailors and locals enjoy a BBQ lunch
on Lalomanu Beach.
Photos: POCIS Simon Bagnall
an LCM8 while
sitting off the
Tongan Island of
Photo: LEUT Todd
Historic maritime trials
for cutting edge MRH90
By LCDR Fenn Kemp and
LT Jesse Platz
HMAS Manoora (CMDR Steve
Dryden) has played host to one of
the most significant trials the RAN
has experienced in a generation,
with the new Multi Role Helicopter
(MRH90) taken through its paces off
The main reason for the trials in
Manoora was to explore the aircraft's
performance in all conditions at sea.
Carried out by the Nowra-based
Aviation Maintenance and Flight Trials
Unit (AMAFTU), the First of Class
Flight Trials (FOCFT) are a three-
Lead test pilot LCDR Mike Waddell
said that, as far as handling qualities
go, the MRH90 was the best aircraft he
"It is a breeze to handle, loves to
turn and, unlike other aircraft, is not
constrained by angle of bank limits,"
he. Initial deck trials were run last year
and examined blade folding, mainte-
nance and hangar storage on passage
from Townsville to Sydney.
To accurately test the MRH90's
effectiveness in FOCFT phase two, the
latest trials aboard Manoora encom-
passed takeoffs, landing zone hops,
vertical replenishments and transfers,
flying up to six hours a day. FOCFT
phase three will be carried out in 2010
to finalise evaluation of the aircraft's
Manoora's CO CMDR Steve
Dryden said Australia's south east
coast offered an optimal test zone for
"It's a very good place to do it," he
said. "It has the right range of weather
and sea conditions so we've been able
to satisfy all the AMAFTU require-
ments ahead of schedule."
Bass Strait is notorious for causing
fluctuating wind patterns and erratic
ship movement, but it was hardly a
hindrance for the MRH90. Test Flight
Detachment Commander LCDR Brad
Mackay said they didn't experience
any conditions that it couldn't handle.
"They easily surpass the Sea Kings
and the Army's Blackhawks, with both
of these aircraft types to be gradu-
ally phased out and replaced by the
MRH90," he said.
LCDR Waddell said the MRH90
was much more powerful than the Sea
"The seven-tonne MRH90 has a
maximum all up weight of 10,600 kg,
meaning it can carry two tonnes of fuel
and up to 18 equipped personnel."
Flight Senior Maintenance Sailor
CPO William McConnell said that,
mechanically, the MRH90 was far
superior to its predecessors.
"It brings 21st century technology to
the ADF," he said.
Forty six aircraft are expected
enter service across Navy and Army
by mid-2010, with six intended for
RAN operation. These will be distrib-
uted between HMA Ships Manoora,
Kanimbla and Success.
"We've already seen the power and
the utility of the aircraft," said CMDR
Dryden. "The MRH90 has an exciting
future in supporting Navy operations."
IMPRESSIVE: MRH90 trials were conducted off the coast of Tassie.
Photo: LAC Christopher Dickson
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