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Black Hawks, MRH90 to join Vanuatu aid effort

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 21, 2015
Operation Pacific Assist 2015
The MRH90 conducts deck landing and recovering procedures on HMAS Tobruk, during the ship’s transit to Vanuatu. (Defence)

Two Australian Army Black Hawks and a Navy MRH90 Taipan are joining relief efforts in Vanuata in the wake of Cyclone Pam

A RAAF Boeing C-17 was due to airlift the two Black Hawks to Vanuatu in an effort to boost the availability of tactical transport aircraft serving outlying areas, while the RAN’s amphibious heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk, with a crew of 177, was expected to arrive in Vanuatu early this week after sailing from Townsville. The ship will contribute heavy engineering, communications, medical and transport equipment, including an MRH90 helicopter and two landing craft, Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews said on Saturday.

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Comments (4)

  • Greg


    Any reason why the new HMAS Canberra wasn’t deployed to Vanuata ?

    I would of expected that with it’s payload capabilities it would be perfect to carry a large number of helicopters and equipment to the disaster zone.

  • Trevor daNob



    It hasn’t be commissioned yet.

  • John N



    Sorry mate, you may not have read the news, HMAS Canberra has commissioned, she commissioned late November last year to be exact.

    Greg, why isn’t Canberra being used? Even though she has commissioned it’s just way too early for her to be used ‘operationally’ (except probably in the most extreme circumstances).

    The Navy (Army and Air Force too) still have a lot to learn about the safe and effective operation of multiple helicopters taking off and landing on the new LHD, the safe use of the LCM’s, loading, unloading, launching, etc.

    On the other hand ships such as Tobruk and Choules, have been in commission for quiet a while and they are a ‘known’ quantity when it comes to their abilities and safe operations.

    If more helicopter support is needed, be that additional Blackhawks, MRH-90’s or even CH-47D’s, then it will be a relatively quick process for C-17A’s to transport them there.

    If anything the one Navy asset that could really have been of use, is the recently retired Heavy Land Craft (LCH), They would have been the perfect ships to take vehicles, men and equipment to the outer islands (where there are no runways, etc), beach themselves and unload.

    Why the Government/Navy didn’t keep the remaining three (out of the original six) in commission till ‘after’ Cyclone season is over is beyond me!


    John N

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