With a diplomatic relationship spanning half a century, Australia and Samoa share many things – among them a passion for rugby, strong personal connections, and shared priorities and challenges.
As members of the Pacific family, priorities include plans and preparations that ensure Samoa is well equipped for the upcoming high risk weather season.
The arrival of Australia’s Pacific Support Vessel, ADV Reliant, into Apia last week, was a chance for stakeholders from both nations to discuss the best way to support Samoa and the Pacific region, in times of crisis.
Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Barry Patterson, said it was a valuable opportunity.
“The last three years have been challenging, globally, and the resilience of the Samoan people, the strength they have within their communities and the way they’ve pulled together in a crisis has been incredibly impressive,” Mr Patterson said.
“As members of the Pacific family, we work together to address challenges in areas such as climate change, the environment, economic security and human development. We also work collaboratively on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities.
“The use of Reliant will be guided by the Samoan Government’s priorities.”
During the port visit, Reliant’s crew conducted ship tours for Samoan stakeholders, including members of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Samoa Police Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Ministry of Health, showcasing the vessel’s key capabilities.
Royal Australian Navy Marine Technician Able Seaman Angus McDonough assisted with the tours which encompassed the mess facilities, the ship’s freshwater capabilities and landing craft.
“We showed them the two landing craft we have – the T4 and T5 – that have the capability to carry 4.5 tonnes of stores, or a fully loaded Land Cruiser and trailer, which we can land on a beach and use to transport up to 36 personnel,” Able Seaman McDonough said.
“Reliant can store 850 cubes of fresh water, so if we go somewhere with no fresh water, we have a good supply.”
Reliant will boost Australia’s contributions to regionally led responses and is one element of Australia’s broader contributions to regional partners’ requests for assistance – such as standing amphibious ship readiness and air-support.
Able Seaman McDonough said Reliant’s visit to Samoa was a successful one.
“The local officials were looking forward to seeing what the capabilities of ADV Reliant were, and I think they were quietly confident we could assist with whatever they required.”