Royal Navy delivers relief aid to Tonga

The Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Spey arrived at Tonga on Wednesday.

Her crew have unloaded disaster relief supplies for communities hit by the Tonga-Hunga volcanic eruption and tsunami. 

The forward-deployed vessel delivered UK aid stores, including 30,000 liters of bottled water; 300 first aid kits; PPE; and sanitation and baby products. The ship unloaded these supplies at Nuku’alofa, the capital city of Tonga, where goods are being collected at a logistics hub. The supplies will be moved to islands nearer to the volcano, which were most affected by the disaster.

Tonga’s protective COVID regulations mean that sailors were not allowed to disembark, so all stores were moved using HMS Spey’s crane. HMS Spey has now returned to sea, opening up the berth to other aid vessels, but she remains nearby if needed.

“The UK is a long-standing partner of the Pacific Islands and having the ship deployed in the Indo-Pacific meant that we could be there for Tonga in their hour of need,” Armed Forces Minister James Heappey.

Australian ship HMAS Adelaide, carrying vital UK Aid supplies requested by the Tongan government, also arrived off the coast of Tonga this week. Her berthing was delayed by an outbreak of COVID-19 on board, but she has since offloaded supplies in a no-contact delivery to the pier. New Zealand fleet oiler HMNZS Aotearoa has also called at the port to provide dry stores and fresh drinking water, and the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Sampson has provided helicopter reconnaissance and aid delivery support. 

Hawaii-based ocean carrier Matson announced Monday that it is diverting the boxship Kamokuiki to carry aid cargo from New Zealand to Tonga. It will also contribute $375,000 towards the provision of needed supplies. Matson normally serves Nuku’alofa every other week, and it is adding two extra sailings of the boxship Papa Mau in February to augment its capacity. 

By The Marine Executive

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