This is the text of a media release from the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, detailing Defence support in Aceh.
DEFENCE SUPPORT TO TSUNAMI RELIEF IN ACEH
Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill today confirmed that the Health Support Company (Field Hospital) which recently deployed to Indonesia will be based in Banda Aceh, following a request from Indonesian authorities.
“Following the destruction of virtually all infrastructure, it is crucial that Australia not only provides support, but provides the right type support in the right places. The Health Support Company will provide essential medical support in the area where it is needed most,” Senator Hill said.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has also sent a small team of specialists to assist in the establishment and operation of an air operations centre. The centre will streamline the flow of urgently needed aid by reducing congestion and coordinating air movements.
In addition, a Headquarters headed up by Brigadier Dave Chalmers is now in Medan to coordinate the ADF relief effort.
Senator Hill said a total of 14 C130 Hercules air crews would be used to crew the ADF’s six C130 aircraft engaged in the relief effort. A NZ Hercules also continues to assist. The additional crews will allow the aircraft to fly a greater number of missions moving stores, equipment and personnel necessary for the provision of disaster relief. Some of these air crews will ferry stores from Australia, while others will remain in Indonesia to move stores and people around the disaster area.
The RAAF B707 transport aircraft continues to assist with the transport of people and stores. “Having this many crews will ensure that we are able to provide the maximum amount of support possible without compromising safety or having our aircraft under utilised,” Senator Hill said.
The deployment of ADF personnel and assets to Indonesia currently includes:
- Approximately 350 personnel deployed to Indonesia;
- HMAS Kanimbla on its way to the region with an Army Engineer detachment;
- Four C130 Hercules in Sumatra (1 dedicated to transporting injured victims) with a further two C130 Hercules supporting the operation from Australia. An additional NZ Hercules continues to assist in the effort.
- Three UH-1H Iroquois helicopters with a fourth due to arrive within 24 hours;
- A Health Support Company to provide surgical, intensive care, resuscitation, X-Ray and pathology capabilities;
- A team of Logistic Specialists; and
- A water purification plant producing 480,000 litres of clean water per day.
“We are continuing to assess the situation and review what contributions we can make. I anticipate that our contribution will grow over the coming weeks,” Senator Hill said.