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Savo evacuation a success

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Australian Defence Force personnel attached to ADV Reliant offload members from the Natural Emergency Response Teams to Savo Island, Solomon Islands as part of Exercise LONGREACH, a Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief evacuation exercise led by the Solomon Island Natural Disaster Management Office.
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The Australian Government’s new Pacific support vessel, ADV Reliant, has put its disaster response capability to the test for the first time, assisting the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) with a practice evacuation of Savo Island.

NDMO Deputy Director George Baragamu said Reliant was key in assisting the NDMO and Australian Defence Force (ADF) evacuate people from Savo Island on 11 November.

Reliant offers a unique capability that can be provided in any humanitarian or disaster response,” he said.

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“Not only can it be used for evacuating people but if we were to transport humanitarian supplies as well as teams to respond to a situation like Savo, Reliant offers is the kind of capability that we would require.”

The successful Savo Island evacuation was conducted as part of Exercise Longreach, an annual series of exercises undertaken across the Pacific Region with the ADF.

Savo Island was chosen by the NDMO to test the Solomon Islands’ disaster management preparations because of recent volcanic activity on the island during the last 18 months.

Exercise Longreach was held concurrently with Exercise Coastwatchers, with both exercises providing opportunities for ADF teams to engage with Solomon Islands government agencies and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. Activities included small boat handling, medical and communications training and band engagement.

Defence Advisor South West Pacific Lieutenant Colonel Justin Bywater said both exercises were a fantastic opportunity for agencies to test and update their disaster management plans as well as enhance their skills.

“It was great to see Solomon Islands Government agencies, Australian Government personnel and the Red Cross work together during Exercise Longreach,” he said.

Reliant will spend up to 300 days a year in the Pacific. Reliant reinforces Australia’s commitment to meeting our Pacific family’s shared security responsibility.

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