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HMS Spey delivers crucial aid to Tonga following devastating tsunami

Sub Lt Kate Winter with piles of bottled water awaiting delivery
26 January 2022
A Royal Navy ship has delivered critical water and medical supplies to Tonga in the wake of a catastrophic tsunami.

As soon as HMS Spey arrived in the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa on the island of Tongatapu, her 50 crew began offloading 30,000 litres of bottled water, medical supplies and sanitation and baby care products.

 

The islands’ capital is serving as the hub for an international aid effort supporting the stricken Commonwealth nation.

 

The aid, which Spey collected from Tahiti last week, will be distributed around islands most severely affected by the tsunami, which was triggered by an extremely rare underwater volcanic eruption on January 15, destroying homes and covering the area in volcanic ash.

 

Chief Petty Officer Ash Head led efforts by the entire crew to unload stores in the scorching sun with the scenes of destruction clearly visible as sailors worked, with debris and ash covering houses and trees nearby.

 

He said: “It is hot out in the sun, so it is good to see the whole ship’s company working together, rotating positions where needed and keeping water bottles topped up.

 

“We are looking after each other and we are glad our work can support international aid efforts and help Tonga.”

The Royal Navy has always been involved in humanitarian aid - you always see it in the Caribbean and this is the first time in a while we have had the chance to help in the Pacific. It is something we should do and I am glad to be helping

Engineering Technician Jack Parker

Due to Tonga’s Covid regulations, Spey’s sailors have not been allowed ashore, so the ship’s crane and a significant team effort was required to ensure everything was delivered safely.

 

Engineering Technician Jack Parker, 24, from Emsworth in Hampshire, was involved in the efforts.

 

He said: “The Royal Navy has always been involved in humanitarian aid - you always see it in the Caribbean and this is the first time in a while we have had the chance to help in the Pacific. It is something we should do and I am glad to be helping."

 

Sub-Lieutenant Kate Winter assisted with the planning for the relief mission – then got stuck in helping unload the aid.

 

“When Spey was re-tasked to help disaster relief efforts in Tonga there was a lot of planning needed at short notice,” the 23-year-old from Gosport in Hampshire explained.

 

“I researched and briefed our sailors on the needs, culture and Covid status of Tonga so that we can provide help safely and in the most appropriate way. Once the planning was done and we arrived, I have been helping unload stores like everyone else on ship!”

 

New Zealand ship HMNZS Aotearoa and Australian ship HMAS Adelaide arrived as Spey was unloading to deliver their own supplies, as the international effort to support Tonga shifts up a gear.

 

Commanding Officer of HMS Spey, Commander Michael Proudman, said:

 

“I am immensely proud of my ship’s company. Their flexibility, hard work and speed of reaction in assisting our Commonwealth friends in Tonga. We wish the people of Tonga the very best in their recovery from this terrible disaster and stand ready to assist in any way we can.”

 

 Spey will remain in the region ready to support further disaster relief efforts in the coming days.

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