HONOLULU — Following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Lola through the South Pacific island chain the U.S. Coast Guard deployed to assist the island nation of Vanuatu in the aftermath of the disaster.
In response to a request from the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby on October 25, the Coast Guard mobilized an Air Station Barbers Point C-130 aircraft, already forward deployed in the area to provide aerial surveillance fishery patrols in support of a Forum Fisheries Agency multi-lateral operation, to support Vanuatu’s government.
The mission’s objectives included conducting post-storm overflights, assessing the condition of ports and critical infrastructure affected by the cyclone, and providing relief supplies.
Over the course of approximately 7 days, the C-130 aircrew conducted post storm assessment of the Torba region and overflights of Santo Airport and Lonorore Airport to evaluate airfield feasibility in anticipation of cargo deliveries. Additionally, the C-130 provided overflights with personnel from the National Disaster Management Office and USAID to support technical assistance and support provisions of the bilateral agreement with Vanuatu. During the post-storm flights, the C-130 delivered over 80,000 lbs of relief supplies, including Australian and New Zealand Aid Kits and medical supplies, to Vanuatu.
"The USCG's deployment of a C-130 to conduct post-storm assessments and deliver vital supplies to the Pacific Island chain of Vanuatu demonstrates our unwavering commitment to humanitarian aid and disaster response," said Cmdr. Andrew Williams, Coast Guard District 14's enforcement branch chief. "We always stand ready to assist our international partners in times of need, working together to restore hope and resilience in affected communities."
Vanuatu, an island nation consisting of approximately 80 islands with a population of around 335,000, is situated approximately 1,090 miles east of Australia. The Coast Guard’s unique capabilities and expertise in maritime environments have allowed crews to provide damage assessment, search and rescue operations, logistical support, and real-time situational awareness for senior leaders.
The Coast Guard’s mission exemplifies its dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of those affected by natural disasters, even in distant regions.