Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Just in time for Christmas, the crew of HMAS Tobruk returned to their homeport of Garden Island, Sydney, after spending the last six weeks in the Philippines, supporting Australian Defence Force (ADF) humanitarian disaster relief operations.

Acting Commander Australian Fleet, Commodore Jonathan Mead, met the ship and congratulated the hard-working sailors and officers on their tireless assistance to the multinational response effort.

“In November, Tobruk deployed to the Philippines to provide assistance to the people following Tropical Cyclone Haiyan,” Commodore Mead said.

“The ship sailed with an embarked Army Recovery Support Force, medium landing craft (LCM8) and a Navy MRH-90 helicopter. While in the disaster zone, Tobruk conducted an amphibious lodgement of the embarked Army Recovery Support Force in Ormoc Bay, and took part in cleanup tasks at local schools.

“The ship also distributed aid from the World Food Programme and the Philippine Government to remote islands in the Visayas archipelago,” Commodore Mead said.

Commanding Officer of Tobruk, Commander Leif Maxfield, said the ship’s company is proud to have helped those in need.

“We sailed from Sydney on 20 October for a deployment to the Solomon Islands. Little did we expect that we would be re-tasked to provide humanitarian support to the Philippines,” Commander Maxfield said.

“Arriving in Ormoc Bay, the scale of damage was significant. The crew worked hard as part of the multinational effort to help the local people get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Arriving back in Sydney, the crew is excited to be joining our loved ones for Christmas. The consensus on the ship is that we are all proud to have made a positive difference. This is what many of us joined the Navy for and why we train so hard,” Commander Maxfield said.

Before docking in Sydney, Tobruk made a short stop in Townsville, unloading 35 members of the Army Recovery Support Force, the landing craft and helicopter. The crew of the amphibious landing ship will now go on leave, with HMAS Choules and ADV Ocean Shield, the assigned humanitarian and disaster response vessels over the Christmas period.

The ADF contribution to the response to Tropical Cyclone Haiyan started on 13 November 2013, after a request for support from the Philippine Government and commitment from the Australian Government to provide assistance.

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