HMNZS Canterbury Home From Vanuatu Mission

HMNZS CANTERBURY approaching the wharf and berthing at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland this morning
HMNZS CANTERBURY approaching the wharf and berthing at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland this morning.

27 April 2015

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY returned to the Devonport Naval Base this morning after more than a month away playing a key role in the New Zealand Government’s support for Vanuatu in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The ship brought home more than 150 Navy, Army and Air Force personnel who have been assisting the cyclone-ravaged nation over the past four weeks. In total more than 350 NZDF personnel have assisted with the relief effort, both in Vanuatu and in New Zealand since Cyclone Pam hit on 13 March. 

The Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, said that the NZDF, working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and aid partners New Zealand Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue and a Ministry of Health medical assistance team, had been able to make a significant contribution to Vanuatu’s recovery.

“I’m very proud of all the work they’ve done, in a variety of locations and environments. There have been some big challenges along the way, but rendering assistance in these situations is something we train and exercise quite intensely for and are well-equipped to deliver on land, at sea and in the air,” he said.

As well as CANTERBURY’s deployment on 23 March with 150 tonnes of food, water and emergency supplies aboard, the NZDF assisted in Vanuatu by providing:

  • A Combined Task Force Headquarters to advise and assist in co-ordinating the response
  • C-130 Hercules flights for multiple deliveries of aid and personnel, the evacuation of New Zealand citizens, injured locals and delivery into theatre of Fijian military personnel
  • Health teams and Army engineers, who carried out damage assessment, clearing debris from roads, repairs to water and sanitation systems, and to critical public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals
  • A B200 King Air aircraft to transport key officials and reconnaissance teams around the Vanuatu Island group
  • A  P-3K2 Orion aircraft which provided aerial reconnaissance to aid planning
  • Air load, passenger and cargo facilitation teams both in New Zealand and Vanuatu.

A demanding range of conditions during the mission meant the NZDF had to improvise away from traditional landing craft operations to get personnel and supplies ashore from the ship. Almost every available means was used to get the job done, with the SH-2G Seasprite helicopter embarked on CANTERBURY and her Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) proving invaluable.

"The smaller volcanic peak islands make beach access much more difficult,” said the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Canterbury, Commander (CDR) Simon Rooke.

“It has been a real joint effort. We have had Navy and Army personnel working together on the islands, with the Air Force-maintained helicopter working alongside the boats moving equipment, supplies and both NZDF and NZ Government officials.

 “The successful operations were the result of careful detailed planning and a patient and methodical approach to the task,” he said.


For further more information please contact Defence Public Affairs: 021 487 980

This page was last reviewed on 8 May 2015.