|HMNZS Canterbury to support relief efforts in Vanuatu|
March 19, 2015 - The Government has announced that the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) sealift and amphibious support ship HMNZS Canterbury will be dispatched to support relief efforts in Vanuatu as it recovers from Tropical Cyclone Pam.
HMNZS Canterbury has an extensive range of capabilities including the ability to land personnel, vehicles and cargo by landing craft, helicopter or ramps, as well as conventional port infrastructure.
She can carry up to 250 people as well as her own crew for long periods, and has played a significant part in previous disaster relief efforts such as the Samoa earthquake and tsunami in 2009 and the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011.
The Navy has been preparing the ship to be ready for a possible deployment since the cyclone struck Pacific Island countries late last week, said the Commanding Officer, Commander (CDR) Simon Rooke.
“We know we can make a difference over there, whatever the exact tasks are,” he said. “This ship has an extraordinary range of capabilities. This is what we train for, what we do, and we can do it well.
“My crew and I are looking forward to helping the people over there whose lives have been overturned in the disaster,” CDR Rooke said.
The ship is expected to sail on Sunday after helicopters have been embarked and appropriate aid supplies and personnel are aboard.
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircraft are also in the air today in support of Vanuatu.
A Beech King Air B200 left the Ohakea Air Force base this morning bound for Port Vila and is expected to arrive late this afternoon. The King Air’s short runway requirements enable it to land on small airfields to deliver people to Vanuatu’s outer islands, thus extending the range of support the NZDF can provide.
A C-130 Hercules is on its way back to RNZAF Base Auckland after delivering a further cargo including shelter supplies, water containers, generators and stoves to Port Vila this afternoon.