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February 3, 2011
By LEUT Kara Wansbury
FOR the second time in as many
years the Queensland Government has
requested the assistance of the Navy to
make Moreton Bay safe for the vessels
and people who use it for commercial
and recreational purposes.
As part of JTF 637, Minehunter
HMAS Huon was the first Fleet unit to
arrive in the region for the important
recovery and reconstruction phase of
Operation Queensland Flood Assist.
CO Huon LCDR John Relyea said
their first task was to clear the main ship-
ping channel in Moreton Bay
"We arrived and got straight into it,"
"The conditions under the surface
were unknown on arrival so a slow,
measured approach was taken as Huon
was the first ship to enter Moreton Bay
from the high seas."
With a number of cargo vessels at
anchor, the importance of the mission
was not lost on the 42-strong ship's com-
"It's good to use our ship and our
training to help the people of Brisbane,"
ABCSO (MW) Greg Starkey said.
LCDR Relyea said he was very
proud Huon was able to make a timely
response when ordered.
"Once the decision was made to sail,
the ship's crew was recalled from leave
in 12 hours and in another 12 the ship
was fully reconstituted and underway,"
RAN aids merchant
shipping in Brisbane
Huon begins operations
in Moreton Bay as part
of Operation Queensland
Photo: CPL Janine Fabre
WHEN hydrographic survey
ships HMA Ships Shepparton
and Paluma arrived in Brisbane as
part of JTF 637, they immediately
began conducting underwater sur-
veys to determine the extent of any
blockages and siltation in the deep
Initially surveying a channel 90
metres wide, the Cairns-based ships
determined there were no significant
CO Shepparton LCDR Adam
Muckalt said initial indications
were that the majority of the float-
ing debris had moved north towards
Redcliffe after leaving the river,
rather than into the shipping lanes in
the middle of Moreton Bay.
"Identifying any partially sub-
merged or sunken objects by HMAS
Huon complements our survey
work and establishes confidence in
the use of the shipping channels,"
LCDR Muckalt said.
Discharging flood waters and
currents in the Brisbane River have
made surveying depths and iden-
tification of sunken debris impos-
sible, but as the water flows ease
work will begin. This will have spe-
cial meaning for many of the sailors
aboard the ships.
Many of Paluma's crew hail
from Brisbane and have friends and
family still living in and around
Queensland's flood-devastated capi-
tal. For some crew members, their
loved one's homes were spared
by mere inches, but Paluma's CO
LCDR Mhanda Tokesi's old fam-
ily home -- just across the road from
Suncorp Stadium -- went completely
"It's sad to see so many of the
places I frequented as I grew up
completely destroyed by the flood
waters," LCDR Tokesi said.
"Seeing my old home in such
a state was a shock so it's good to
be here in my ship helping with the
LEUT Shaun Poing-Destre grew
up in Brisbane and knows how
important the river is.
" Shepparton and Paluma
will survey the river between the
Gateway and Captain Cook bridges
and we will be able to show a three
dimensional image of what the riv-
erbed looks like," he said.
"It will show us if there are any
obstructions that could impede the
ferries or any other vessels using the
river. We know how important it is
that these services re-commence as
soon as possible."
-- LCDR Adam Muckalt
Survey ships get to work
Seahawks head south
By LCPL Mark Doran
SEAHAWK helicopters recently
took to the sky above the flood-
ravaged Victorian countryside to
assist during Victorian flood relief
The Navy element comprised
35 sailors from 816 Squadron who
were attached to, and tasked by,
Army's 4 Brigade, commanded by
BRIG Robert Marsh.
Initially their main role was to
provide transport for the Victorian
State Emergency Service and com-
mand elements of 4 Brigade.
They also contributed with food
and relief drops for locals and live-
stock on the isolated properties.
Aviation Warfare Officer LEUT
Jodie Turkenburg said the Seahawk
was a very versatile aircraft and was
good for reconnaissance.
"We were able to get ahead of
the flood waters, inspect and assess
the levels, take photos and then
pass that information on," LEUT
LSA Nick Lowe said working in
Victoria had been an eye-opening
"It was good to contribute in
some way to the people who were
doing it tough."
The two helicopters and their
support crew were based at the
Bendigo Regional Airport and had
just finished assisting with flood
relief in Queensland before heading
south to Victoria.
RAN's Victorian flood relief efforts
GOOD VIEW: (Above) POA
David Vowell surveys the
flood waters at Lake Boga
in Victoria from an 816
FLOOD PLAIN: (Left) A
Seahawk surveys the rising
waters near Swan Hill.
Photos: LCPL Mark Doran
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